[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 16 August 2004]
Barry Eisler’s Rain Fall is a fast-and-furious page turner, which very ably jump starts the idling cool-killer genre.
The basic plot is that John Rain is a killer for hire who carries some very serious emotional scars from both being part-Japanese and part-American–thus growing up without feeling at home in either society–and also from his service in Vietnam where as a Special Forces soldier he partook in the madness of that conflict. The end result is that Rain has become an amoral hero, close to an anti-hero, but still likable and understandable enough to care for.
Rain Fall takes place in Tokyo, thus immediately setting it apart from the common Los Angeles/San Francisco/London setting where this kind of novel for some reason usually finds itself. Mr. Eisler takes great care to both describe the physical settings and to explain some of the pieces of Japanese culture and society the plot hinges on, turning the Tokyo backdrop into an integral part of the novel. For a gaijin, Japanese society is pretty darn strange, but Mr. Eisler is a skilled guide.
An excellent page turner and very tightly executed, Rain Fall does suffer from some fairly hackneyed and obvious plot developments, especially in the denouement, but at that point the reader is involved enough with John Rain that those pieces are easy to overlook.
All in all, a strong first effort, and both an author and a character to watch.