Barry Eisler's half-breed freelance assassin John Rain returns to Tokyo for a second outing in Hard Rain, the sequel to Eisler's stunning 2002 debut, Rain Fall. Once again Rain is working with, or at least parallel to, Tatsu, a wily veteran of Japan's FBI equivalent, who aims to cleanse the Japanese government of its systemic corruption. To further this goal, he's persuaded the ever-cautious Rain to take out Murakami, a brutal gangster and hitman who specializes in making his killings look like suicide, a specialty Rain thought was his alone. Liquidating the dangerous and elusive Murakami proves to be a difficult task, however, one that leads to personal loss for Rain, and sets the plot on course for a climax that hits with the power of a well-delivered roundhouse kick.
Eisler builds on Rain's self-enforced isolation and loneliness as he expertly shows the reader Tokyo as channeled by Chandler, transforming the burgeoning metropolis into a noir catacomb of dimly lit hostess bars, scheming bureaucrats, shadowy intelligence agents, and outlaw martial arts dojos where thugged-up yakuza train for illicit death matches.
While the plot becomes complicated toward the novel's conclusion, Rain is a refreshing and complex character whom readers will want to see return for another instalment. If you've a yen for a thriller that mixes suspense, intrigue, and action with a Japanese flavour and a hardboiled American attitude, Eisler's Hard Rain is an excellent choice. --Benjamin Reese, Amazon.com