“Hard Rain” by Barry Eisler
Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
John Rain is a scary individual.
As Hard Rain opens, Rain kills the owner of a gym, Ishihara, while Ishihara is lifting weights. As usual, the death looks natural: a weightlifter trying to bench press more weight than he should.
Picking up where “Rain Fall” left off, John is still in Japan but is alone except for his good friend Harry (the computer hacker geek). His “girlfriend” Midori thinks John is dead and has continued her career as a Jazz musician. John is now working more closely with his old friend, Tatsu, who is with the Japanese version of the FBI. It was Tatsu who hired John to kill the weightlifter.
Tatsu is working behind the scenes to help Japan rid itself of the deeply embedded corruption that is ruining the economy. Eisler has set up a complex story line that, truthfully, is hard to follow for a simple engineer, but, the gist is a very powerful mob like person, Yamaoto (who hired Rain in the last book to kill Midori’s father), is controlling politicians and bureaucrats to do his bidding. Eventually Yamaoto sees the crumbling of Japan’s economy as his opportunity to step in as leader.
John has been hiding in plain sight with only Tatsu being able to find him via a network of cameras on Japans streets and a cadre of help. Also looking for Rain is Yamaoto, who wants to make sure Rain dies.
Harry, in the meantime, has found a girlfriend after a visit to the Damask Rose, a place where one can have a drink, watch naked dancers, get a lap dance, and hire female companionship. One of the women there, Yukiko, takes a liking to the nerdly Harry and has started dating him. Hearing this, John is immediately suspicious…Harry is a good guy, but, not exactly the kind of person the most beautiful and elegant Yukiko would go after, unless there was another reason.
It turns out, there was another reason. To find John Rain.
Coincidently, Tatsu asks John for another “favor”. To kill a killer. This killer, Murakami, is every bit John’s equal and more. Interestingly, Murakami owns the Damask Rose, and happens to be the toughest individual John has ever met (except maybe for his old, now deceased, friend Crazy Jack). After scoping out the assignment, and meeting a new love interest (Naomi), John decides to pass on the opportunity deeming it much too risky for the money.
Then something happens that changes John’s mind.
I cannot tell you what happens, but, suffice it to say that one of Rain’s best friends dies and this act ensures a death sentence for those involved. You do not want to piss off John Rain.
Like “Rain Fall”, “Hard Rain” starts off rather slowly, building the story, the characters, and setting up the complex story line. As the book evolves, the action increases slightly while the intrigue increases greatly.
It is interesting, to me, that I could like a cold blooded assassin, but, I do. John Rain is a complex character who, despite his profession, has a heart for those he considers his friends.
I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. Will John reform and finally be able to live a normal life? Will he leave Japan for Brazil? Will Naomi and John stay together? Will John pick up new jobs from Tatsu?