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Zero Sum

(John Rain #9)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,400 ratings  ·  203 reviews
Returning to Tokyo in 1982 after a decade of mercenary work in the Philippines, a young John Rain learns that the killing business is now controlled by Victor, a half-Russian, half-Japanese sociopath who has ruthlessly eliminated all potential challengers. Victor gives Rain a choice: kill a government minister or die a grisly death. But the best route to the minister is th ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
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Carl You should definitely check out the book immediately before this one, Graveyard of Memories, as this book is a basically continuation of that one, and…moreYou should definitely check out the book immediately before this one, Graveyard of Memories, as this book is a basically continuation of that one, and details John Rain's early development into a premiere assassin. All the earlier books can be left until later though, since they take place chronologically later in time. The only thing you are really missing out on is the appreciation of how he learned many of the 'tricks of the trade' that he so faithfully employs later in life. Where you might be like "oooh, so that's why he always does that."(less)
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Larry H
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley

There are few authors out there today who can get my pulse racing like Barry Eisler, especially when it's one of his John Rain thrillers. These books are the perfect balance of excellent character development, crackling action, and heart-in-your-throat tension, and I honestly cannot get enough of them. Why these books aren't as well-known by the general public as some more-mediocre series is beyond me.

I'm happy to report that Eisler's newest John Rain thriller, Zero Sum, is equally as fantastic
Andrew Smith
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A chronological reading of John Rain’s life would have you coming to this book after A Graveyard of Memories and before A Clean Kill in Tokyo (aka Rain Fall). Graveyard was written as a prequel in 2014 and is set in 1972, it deals with his early life as a CIA bagman and his conversion to novice assassin. This is a second prequel novel and it’s set in 1982, where it picks up John’s life once more after he returned to Tokyo following ten years of fighting as a mercenary in the Philippines. It ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: Larry H
Quite a satisfying espionage thriller. The hero of a series I am breaking into, John Rain, is a bit disreputable in his current occupation of a soldier-spy for hire. But he appreciates it when the people he has to kill are bad guys. He may engage in adultery to fulfill his love life, but his desire burns true. In the face of monstrous enemies with nefarious plans for more and more power, Rain gains our permission to grow the body count, dodge death in many forms, while achieving some personal ju ...more
I’ve read all the John Rain books & “Graveyard of Memories” remains one of my favourite books of the last few years. Like that one, this features an older, wiser Rain reliving an episode from the beginning of his career as a hitman.

It’s 1982 & Rain has just returned to Tokyo looking for work. When he gets in touch with old contact & friend Miyamoto, it’s immediately clear things have changed. Miyamoto is now an important man in the government & in Rain’s absence has been forced
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Assassin John Rain is back in Tokyo, after spending many years hiding out in the Philippines. However, the landscape has changed and his services are not needed as a half Japanese-half Russian sociopath named Victor, has a monopoly on local killings. John asks for an introduction because he needs work, and has to earn his way into Victor's good graces at his introductory meeting. He is given an assignment to kill a member of the Japanese Diet or be killed. While he bides his time, Rain assembles ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
In his early thirties, freelance assassin John Rain returns to Tokyo after ten years in the Philippines. He inadvertently becomes involved with Victor, a Russian/Japanese thug with a monopoly on contract killing in Tokyo. Rain quickly understands he needs to eliminate Victor but his plan gets complicated by possible CIA involvement in the future direction of post war Japan. Unfortunately for me, Rain's long detailed monologues and drawn out trade-craft segments slowed the pace in what is otherwi ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's 1982, and John Rain is back in Tokyo after a decade fighting in various secret wars. He tries to get back into the only game he knows, murder for hire.

Unfortunately for him, there is now a monopoly in that field, owned by a half-Russian thug named Victor. (A nod to Tom Woods's Victor the Russian Assassin series?) Victor is causing problems for the whole country. Rain infiltrates his organization, and of course, meets a beautiful woman.

Very good stuff, with a great portrait of 1980's Tokyo.
Michael Hicks
After a stand-alone title (The God's Eye View) and the introduction of new series heroine (Livia Lone), Barry Eisler returns with a new John Rain thriller, his ninth, a prequel title that picks up a decade after Graveyard of Memories.

This time around, Rain is tasked with eliminating a Japanese politician after taking a job from Victor, a Russian crime boss who has been displacing the Yakuza. Why Victor wants the politician dead and who he answers to are Rain's central mysteries, and after becom
Nancy Cook  Lauer
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
If you want a fast-paced, easy-reading, fairly mindless book filled with lots of violence and leavened with a little sex, this is for you. A hired killer is hunting people in Tokyo, some of whom are hunting him too. I really enjoyed what seem to be well-researched and realistic depictions of locale and characters.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a thrill ride. Lots of insight into the strategy aspect of action.
David Highton
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A new Rain novel, set early in his assassin career, where he is less experienced, prone to self-doubt and not as confident as in the novels set later. Still, he gets the job done.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley to read and review

ZERO SUM by Barry Eisler is the 9th book in the John Rain Series, and John has returned to Tokyo and has met up with a close friend from the past and offers to help his friend out with a named Victor, an alleged son of a Soviet general and native Japanese mother who has been eliminating employees after threatening to do so at his friend’s firm at an alarming rate, thereby forcing his services to be secured at a
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 stars

I was so excited when I saw that there was going to be another book in the John Rain series. I was first introduced to Barry Eisler's John Rain series years ago through a site called bzzagent. I was selected to read a book and give my honest opinion. That book was the 4th in the series (Killing Rain now known as Redemption Games). I was hooked!!! I quickly read the first three books in the series and have been a Barry Eisler (and John Rain!) fan ever since. I have read Eisler's other bo
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Received from Netgalley for honest review.

This is the first one I have read from Barry Eisler in his John Rain series. I know it is way out of sequence,but this was a very good start to get started with.

The writing was crisp and really well thought out and all the characters were really very good.I like John Rain and I will read some more of this series.

Really enjoyable read and well worth a go.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I had outmaneuvered the son of the most powerful yakuza in Tokyo, a guy who had earned the sobriquet "Mad Dog", picking off his soldiers one by one as they tried to hunt me down. I had spent a lifetime learning and implementing the lessons of guerilla warfare-first, as a half-breed kid bullied in Japan and in the working-class American town my mother brought me to after my father had died; then in Vietnam; and then again most recently, in the Philippines. I was good at violence. Exceptionally go ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Decent thriller, too much filler. Lots of unnecessary dialogue and conjecture, especially between Rain and Tatsu.

Despite the criticism above, this book deserves 4 stars from me for two reasons: First, Eisler's reminder and use of the Lockheed bribery scandal to remind readers that there are very few corporate (as opposed to individual) good guys in the world, and second for the head fake he may or may not have given jaded readers with the Maria character. Well done if intentional.
Donna Backshall
At this point, I feel like I may finally know enough about John Rain, probably more than he is supposed to know about himself. But that doesn't mean I won't miss that terribly flawed, yet admirable, man. He has gotten into my head and under my skin.

Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jun 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
So these John Rain flashbacks need to go away. I gave A Graveyard of Memories a pass based on the previous books in the series, but Zero Sum was too much to take for me.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't really the 9th John Rain book chronologically but the second. (I had listened to the others and now I've got the first, which I somehow missed, waiting for me.) Those who read--or listened to--the series from 2002 on know that Rain is a half-Japanese half-American assassin. So an anti-hero by profession but one who reconsiders every thought and deed and one with whom we can readily sympathize. He's a good guy, despite his day job, and he puts himself in real danger here doing a favor ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, read-2018
In the autumn of 1982 John Rain returns to Tokyo in need of a job after ten years of mercenary work in the Philippines. Through enquiries with an old contact he learns that in his absence, a half-Russian ex-soldier named Victor has bulldozed his way into a monopoly on the assassination business in the country by killing all who would oppose him. If Rain wants back in the business in Japan without being under Victor's thumb, the only choice is to take him out. What could possibly go wrong?

David Berkowitz
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Zero Sum is the ninth entry in Eisler's John Rain series. I am not positive I have read them all, but I'm sure I have read at least seven. I think it was a disservice to long time fans to rename some of the earlier volumes. But that has nothing to do with this book.

This is another flashback to a young John Rain. Set in the 1980s, Rain has returned to Japan after a decade in the Philippines and he is looking for work. Rain quickly finds himself a pawn in a complicated plot where people from two
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I happened to browse Netgalley (I've been staying away because I have too many books on my TBR list) and saw Zero Sum was available (what TBR list?). I woke my dogs with my /squee! As soon as I got the ARC I pushed all my other books aside...

The only reason I didn't finish it in a day is that I couldn't push my life aside (family, work and all).

1. The writing was excellent. It really flowed. When I had to put the book down and then pick it back up I was right there in the story with no problem.
Lloyd Russell
And speaking of authors that I really like, but was a little disappointed with their latest, I've got a review of Barry Eisler's Zero Sum. I've been a big fan of Barry's for a long time now. I've always enjoyed his John Rain series. And Livia Lone, which is Book 1 of a new series, I liked a lot (3.5/4). So I started reading Zero Sum with great anticipation. And it was pretty good. There were definitely things I liked about it:

1. No matter how long between books Barry goes, reading John Rain is l
Todd Simpson
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely Brilliant. This is the ninth Barry Eisler book in the John Rain series, and I have loved every one of them. I quite enjoyed that this story takes us back to John Rain’s earlier years, when he still perfecting his craft as a paid assassin. His background in the CIA, and his military days in the Vietnam War, not to mention his martial arts expertise, make him the perfect killing machine. Mind you he’s quite methodical and unassuming, that is until someone is trying to attack him, and th ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This covers a young John Rain, who has returned to Japan after fighting in an insurrection in the Philippines in the 1970s. His tour of duty in Vietnam taught him a lot about killing and his work with the CIA in Tokyo made it necessary to flee Japan, Now, Rain-san meets with his friend, Miyamoto, who tells him all contract killing is now done through Victor, a half-Russian, half-Japanese sociopath. When Rain meets with Victor, he is given a new contract to kill Sugihata, a Liberal Democrat facto ...more
Ian Heap
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great read!!.
Good pre-Rain Fall story, and it shows the development of Rains tactical awareness getting better compared to the previous novel. He's not so much gung-ho, well, at least not when it come down to the enemy.. Women though..? I don't know what Barry was drinking but some of the naughty scenes were very naughty indeed!! I kept imagining Monica Belluci.....
Moving on..
If you have read any of the Rain novels read this one, it provides some a good filler for the story and history of Rain
audio narrated by Barry Eisler
this the 2nd prequel and much better than "Graveyard of Memories". Eisler does a good job on the narration, the story is so-so, but Eisler over writes the educational level of John Rain. In both prequels Rain's dialogue is represented as an educated person, yet he dropped out of high school, joined the army before he was 17 and ended up in a special infantry group. I also joined the army at 17, a few years before Rain did; they checked and verified my age and Specia
Jun 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mmm
Back in history to an early John Rain, returning to Tokyo after 10 years in the Philippines. Victor, a Russian/Japanese has taken over the assassination game in Tokyo. Rain needs money and figures his only way back in is to remove Victor. The plot was thin, the writing felt like it was written by an immature, vapid Rain. Maybe that was the point, but it didn't make for good reading. Graphic sex X 2, language. If this had been the first Rain book I read, I would have never picked up another one. ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mike by: Dixon
John Rain is back in this prequel to the series and his fans will be more than satisfied with the result. Rain, in his late 20's, returns to Japan after his stint in the Special Forces in Vietnam and The Philippines and we get to meet some of his associates who stay with him into the later books. In this one, he has the trade craft for sure, but has not yet developed the sang froid and paranoia that makes him so interesting in the later stories. In keeping with his age, affairs of the heart play ...more
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Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous " ...more

Other books in the series

John Rain (10 books)
  • A Clean Kill in Tokyo (John Rain, #1)
  • A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain, #2)
  • Winner Take All (John Rain, #3)
  • Redemption Games (John Rain, #4)
  • Extremis (John Rain, #5)
  • The Killer Ascendant (John Rain, #6)
  • The Detachment (John Rain #7; Ben Treven #3)
  • Graveyard of Memories (John Rain, #8)
  • The Killer Collective (John Rain #10; Livia Lone #3; Ben Treven #4)
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