Monday, May 11, 2009

Jenn's Review: Rain Fall

Summary: John Rain, a Japanese American konketsu, or half-breed, learned his lethal trade as a member of the U.S. Special Forces. Although tortured by memories of atrocities he committed in Vietnam, he has become a paid assassin, a solitary man who lives in the shadows and trusts no one, even those who pay extraordinary sums for his ability to make murder look like natural death. But the aftermath of an otherwise routine hit on a government bureaucrat brings Rain to the attention of two men he knows from the old days in Vietnam: a friend who's now a Tokyo cop and an enemy who betrayed Rain long ago and is now the CIA's station chief in Japan. Like the gangster who hired Rain to kill Yasuhiro Kawamura, they want something the dead man had--a computer disk containing proof of high-level corruption, information that could destroy Japan's ruling political coalition. The search for the disk leads them to a woman Rain has come to love, a talented young jazz musician who also happens to be Kawamura's daughter.

Review: I'm huge spy/assassin story fan so I have been looking forward to picking this up off my TBR pile. This is Eisler's first novel (from '02) and having read his most recent, Fault Line, I must say it's wonderful to see how far he's come as a writer. Not that Rain Fall is a poor first novel, far from it. I found this first book of the Rain series to be a solid, entertaining read.

Although the character's aren't overly developed (I would like to know a little more about Kawamura's daughter, Midori), Rain is a likable sum of his experiences. Eisler does a nice job of infusing back story throughout the novel, keeping the reader's interest by weaving a little more plot exposition with each back flash. I did find the plot a little far fetched at times (for an assassin, Rain has an astonishing ignorance of the workings of the intelligence communities ~ and what paranoid assassin hands over valuable intel to a soft target civilian???) and at times a little repetitious (his recon around several blocks every time he goes to a meet or a stake out), but at least Rain is consistent. It was almost written like a movie script, so it was no surprise to find out it had been turned into a film (Gary Oldman!); unfortunately, it seems to only have been released in Japan, Rein fôru: Ame no kiba.

Personally, I wasn't crazy about the ending, but not from a writing standpoint. I was routing for Rain on a personal level, but the ending that Eisler wrote is far more realistic. I look forward to reading the rest of the series ...and just maybe I'll try and rent the Japanese movie when it comes out on DVD (praying for English subtitles).

Final Take 3.8/5

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