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Winner Take All

(John Rain #3)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  8,125 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Previously published as Rain Storm and Choke Point

John Rain has disappeared to Brazil to escape the killing business and the enemies encircling him in Japan. But the CIA isn't willing to lose its premier "natural causes" contract killer, and they force Rain to take on a high-risk assignment: eliminate a ruthless arms dealer operating in Southeast Asia.

The upside? Financial
Kindle Edition, New Edition, 384 pages
Published June 28th 2004 by Barry Eisler
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Penny It's not necessary, but you may want to if you can. I first read The Killer Collective, which is the 10th book in the John Rain series, the 4th in the…moreIt's not necessary, but you may want to if you can. I first read The Killer Collective, which is the 10th book in the John Rain series, the 4th in the Ben Treven series and the 3rd in the Livia Lone series. I liked the characters so much that I decided to go back and start at the beginning. Now I'm on the 3rd John Rain book, so these are all I know so far. I didn't have any trouble starting with The Killer Collective - each book has its own story arc, but references events that have happened in the past between the characters. I wouldn't recommend reading the second book (A Lonely Resurrection or Hard Rain) without reading the first, but the third is less dependent on the story lines of the first two, while still referencing them. It's not the case (so far) that you are left with a cliff hanger or pop into the middle of a plot line that started in an earlier book.(less)

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Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Winner Take All is a thriller written by Barry Eisler, about fictional character John Rain, a paid CIA assassin.

This is the third book in a series that I have read. In this book Rain has been hired to kill (retire) Belghazi an arms dealer. The reason he has been selected for this assignment is that he specializes in making a murder look like the person died of natural causes. Rain has tracked Belghazi to Macau, which is part of China and is sought of setup like Hong Kong. It is often called the
Andrew Smith
I've got to like John Rain. He's a stone cold killer - assassinating someone never ruins his day. The broken necks are many, the martial arts skills thoroughly honed. But the true skill demonstrated here is how Eisler is able to develop Rain into a sympathetic character, one who appreciated good Scotch Whiskey, who loves jazz and who is thoughtful and caring in his relationships with women. It probably shouldn't work but it does.

I can't get too excited about the story this time around - I drift
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
It was fun, contemporary spy/assassin novel. I think this was the second book with Rain in it & I haven't read the first. It stood alone well & was pretty good. There were a few too many digressions with Rain philosophizing over his life & situation, feeling sorry for himself due to the way he is cut off from having a close relationship with a woman. It got old by the end, but it was the major theme of the book & the overall hook. The paranoia in his life was severe & he did find he could trust ...more
**4.5 stars**

After the thoroughly depressing conclusion of Hard Rain (book 2 in the series) I sincerely hoped that the world would leave John Rain alone and I wouldn’t have to hear about him again. Not because I didn’t enjoy the books but because I thought the guy deserved some peace. You have to give some kudos to an author when he makes you feel like that for a hired assassin.

Rain Storm has a (very slightly) more positive outlook. Please don’t get the impression that the book is a ray of sunsh
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the 250th book I've read this year.

if you like thrillers, you should really give these Eisler books a try.
I read this as an ebook 8 years ago & reviewed it here. It was out of order & is on its third title, so no wonder there is some confusion. I hate it when books are renamed. In my other review, I gave it 3 stars & doubted I'd read it again. I am because now I'm listening to the books in order.

It was pretty good this time. It helped having the background of the first 2 books. Rain is a very careful character who is aging a bit & coming to terms with that plus other complications in his life. Kind
All right, so I appear to be hunting for a specific character: from Jack Reacher (Lee Child), to Jonathan Quinn (Brett Battles), onto John Rain (Barry Eisler). From ex military, to cleaner, to assassin.

How do we as readers gain empathy for a killer? Simple enough, join John Rain in his voyage from assassin for hire to conscientious killer (kill bad guys) to wanting to get out of the business...but unwilling to leave his perspective of the world (no worries, this transformation takes place acros
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
I'll be honest, I bought the book because I knew it wouldn't hold me in a chair all night until I finished reading it. I read Hard Rain and was less than engrossed. But I did want to see how the conspiracy evolved.
Unfortunately the conspiracy does not continue in this book, so I still don't know and probably won't read another one.
Eisler is still bogged down in t0o much metaphoric imagery. Pages of descriptions of scenery while Rain takes long lonely walks to make sure he is being followed. I
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wow, picked ths one up on a lark and it was a good find. I had never heard of Barry Eisler before reading this book but it's great.

The main character (John Rain) is a high level, assasin who takes up what looks to be just another job. Well, it turn out to be anything but "just another job". So, John is out on an island on his own trying to complete the job and avoid becoming a targeted victom himself.

What makes this book even better than the plot and characters alone is that Eisler is an ex-CIA
Bill Lalonde
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by Eisler (though note that it's not the first, but the third, in the series) and is was surprisingly really, really good. Eisler can really write, and has created a main character who is at the same time highly skilled and all-too-humanly flawed, exotic yet realistic. It takes talent to write about an assassin who's believably heroic. The book is fast-paced and action-packed but also deeply reflective. Well done. ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good fast read that takes us from the beaches of Rio to the casino in Macau, with one of the best parts set in the Virginia suburbs of DC, featuring one of the most intriguing characters I've read about-John Rain, Japanese-American assassin. ...more
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
"From Macao to Acapulco from Havana to Seville
We'll see monoliths and bridges and the Christ up on the hill"
--Pogues "Drunken Boat"

I'm a completist, so you'll see the other John Rain sequels appearing on my summer reading list. The series is getting better as the side characters start to play a larger role. This is in part due to their appearance in small sections of each book. John Rain is a pro, but he is a lot more interesting when he has to deal with people in other ways than his special tal
Brinn Colenda
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Barry Eisler book...I met Barry last month at the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference...was impressed with the man and now am impressed with the excellent work...Barry is an intelligent guy, articulate and personable. His characters are well-developed, interesting, and worldly. His vocabulary is somewhat elevated from the usual thriller...I liked that. The plot was great, the commentary was interesting and illuminating. I learned a lot of useful information, as well as ...more
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having just finished the previous novel, I couldn't wait to start this one!

It follows on nicely and I liked the plot of this one, as well as the introduction of the character, Dox. Eisler is slowly building a group of "supporters" around John which allows the John character to further develop - though I am also personally hoping that he can find a way to "go off the radar" again! Like all good assassins!!!

Bring on the next one!
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Action packed from the beginning until the end. Keeps the reader engaged at all times. Very entertaining.
It was an average book, to be honest. Simple & one plot, not deviating into any side plots, start and end as a quick short read. Nothing stands out in the book, nothing lingers in your mind as an afterthought or picks on your brain, a straight read from start to the end.

John Rain has been living in Rio in hiding from his past involving CIA, Japan & Midori, created a separate identity for himself and manages to live below the radar. But when he gets in touch with his old gf in Rio, CIA finds him
Elaine Nickolan
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent installment of the John Rain series. This time John is tracked down and given a job. He soon finds he has competition and gets the feeling that his own people may be in on this job, and not to help him. Trust issues abound and John must pick and choose who and when to trust. Will his latest job get the best of him? Will he finally be able to walk away? I must say that this protagonist has the best ways to do someone in and he makes killing people an art form. I truly enjoyed th ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done. My third of the John Rain Series and, so far, all have been equally well-written and enjoyable reading. Thanks again to David for his recommendation.
Kenny Bellew
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spy novel about stopping weapons dealers, finding love while having a difficult job, and cross cultural appreciation.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good enough but not as good as other books

Didn't feel as good as the other books for me. But enjoyed it nevertheless.

The audio narrator for all his books is good.
Joseph Akbrud
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Despite the mediocre reviews that "Winner Take All" received on Goodreads I decided to give it a shot anyway. Having read the first two John Rain novels I assumed that I would have a greater appreciation for the character that would negate some of the criticism that the novel received.

Having read the previous two John Rain novels definitely helped make the book more relevant. It is completely understandable why someone who has not read any of the previous novels would be confused. I would even
Kevin Kazokas
Solidly written first-person fictional account by an assassin-for-hire contracted by the CIA to take out a mysterious arms dealer. There are several incongruities that seem to get resolved by the book's dramatic end, though its hard to imagine various CIA agents working with such cross purposes, but I suppose in today's super-surveiled world it's possible. The author also did a nice job of leading the reader on with a few false leads without ruining the guessing game by way of a non-plausible en ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it liked it
A CIA contact killer who specializes in making it look like natural causes (and happens to be Caucasian/Japanese) is on the hunt in Macau. Someone else is after the mark and they work together. There are connections with the CIA and the Japanese Yakuza.

It’s hard to characterize this writing style of the ‘action’ genera. Nevertheless, I find it interesting. There are very detailed explanations of hand-to-hand fighting. The author writes in a way that is always very 'calm’ – in a Zen kind-of way.
Cm Perkins
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is called Rain Storm; I find many books retitled to include the name Rain and wish both titles were included in the list. That being said I enjoyed it so much - especially since it had been awhile since I had read Barry Eisler. I've decided to read them in order and recommend it. Once again John is tasked with taking out a bad guy, but this time he is reunited with a buddy from their war days and I see this becoming a good future pairing. Stayed up late when the action got heavy and th ...more
Alan Mills
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-crime
Fast moving addition to the "Rain" series (this is the third book in the series, it was previously released under two other titles: Rain Storm and Choke Point). Rain has retired to Rio for some much needed down time, but is found by his CIA employers. He is sent off on a new mission, to kill a Middle Eastern arms dealer in Macau. He re-ups with Dox (a super-sniper, who also provides some comic relief to Rain's deadly seriousness), and mayhem ensues, along with a mysterious beautiful unknown, Del ...more
Dave Levine
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I guess I landed on 2.5 when I finished the book.Multiple times in the first half, I was tempted to just stop even though I really dislike doing that. The issue is that this book is harder work than it should be. Unless you are reading a text book, reading should be enjoyable.

The issue is that Mr. Eisler obviously has a very well formed vocabulary. The problem is that he backs up the truck and dumps it on you in its entirety and unnecessarily.

The plot was fine, the characters fine. If this was a
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#3 in the John Rain series. 2005 Barry Award for Best Novel. Rain Storm is AKA: Choke Point [2005]. John Rain is a half-America, half-Japanese Viet Nam veteran living in Tokyo as a freelance assassin.

John Rain retires from the assassin business and moves to Sao Paulo. Eventually he moves to Rio and reunites with Naomi, which allows the CIA, in the person of ex-marine sniper Dox, to find him. He is pressured to accept a contract on Algerian arms dealer Belghazi, accompanied by the beautiful and m
Corey Nelson
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2019
Action is now taking the reader to new locations and and meeting a number of new people. Some of the new acquaintances will obviously be returning as the complexly of John's sphere grows.

The urge for John to live a "normal" live is pulling on him more than ever. But just as much, external forces are trying to nail him down to continue what he is best at, eliminating problem people.

LOVED this story as we travel with John to new location where his well verse skills in survival, judging people, pie
Vincent Stoessel
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed! Like a sharp stiletto, Eisler gets the job done.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was a little surprised at how this book started out with John Rain working for the CIA after spending the first two books avoiding "the agency." So, it was weird with it opening up with that. It gets explained later.

So, this book ranks higher than book number two for me and probably right up there with the first book in the John Rain series, and it all has to do with John coming to grips with people actually caring about him as a person and less on the fact that he is a cold and ruthless assas
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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 (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • A Clean Kill in Tokyo (John Rain, #1)
  • A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain, #2)
  • 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)
  • Zero Sum (John Rain, #9)
  • The Killer Collective (John Rain, #10; Ben Treven #4; Livia Lone #2.5)
  • The Chaos Kind (John Rain, #11, Livia Lone, #3.5)

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