I discovered a new assassin I really like! John Rain lives in Japan, and he's . . . dangerous. Here's my review of my very first John Rain book, Rain Fall. It's the first in the series.
I bought this book for Kindle.
John Rain is an assassin.
John Rain is not a nice guy.
John Rain is a very tortured man.
Can a freelance assasin, a former soldier who's done things he's pretty much not okay with, have a heart? A code of honor?
Mr. Eisler shows that, in the hands of a skilled writer, the answer to these questions is "yes".
When John Rain is asked to kill the daughter of a target he's recently killed, he declines the job. He doesn't do women.
But then, he's kind of bothered that she's in danger. She's a jazz musician. He goes to see her play, and one thing leads to another, and he ends up protecting her (from half of Japan, it seems like).
I really liked how this story developed. I went into the John Rain world pretty neutral. I tried this book based on a recommendation from GoodReads.
John Rain is a problematic character if you believe that there is unequivocal "good" and "evil" in the world. If you follow the story, and come to understand what John Rain does and why he does it, there's a good chance that you'd be willing to give him a fair chance.
I really liked John Rain's relationship with Harry. And I absolutely loved how John Rain way, way underestimated Harry. Probably my favorite line in the whole book is when Harry asks John Rain (for the second time), "Fair enough?".
I also liked the relationship between John and Titsu. Both men are doing what they believe. They're both loyal to a cause. They're both willing to die doing what they do. They're strangely opposite, and paradoxically in harmony with each other; very Zen. That really worked for me.
Mr. Eisler did a very good job creating a man who is deadly, but not invincible. The fights were very convincing to me, as an outsider, and someone who isn't knowledgeable about those things.
The pacing of the story is dead on. It doesn't sag in the middle. It doesn't race to an ending. And the beginning eases the reader into a complex world with an entirely different culture (if you're from the West) in a smooth, relatively painless way.
I liked the way Japan becomes a kind of supporting character in the book. I don't know very much about Japan, so to me that was very convincing.
I gave this book five stars because of the writer's ability to draw me into John Rain's mind and convince me that he sees himself as a man doing what he does best, which happens to be bringing about the deaths of other. I appreciated that Eisler was able to bring that off with a degree of subtlety that's rare in commercial fiction. And on top of that, his prose is spare and lean.
Overall, if you enjoy Jack Reacher adventures or Lawrence Block's Keller, you'll enjoy following the adventures of John Rain.
Do you have a favorite hero who's maybe a little on the dark side? Tell us all about it.
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