I love conspiracy theories. That doesn't mean that I believe them,
but they're fun at worst and provide grist for contemplation at
best. The most popular subject of course is death. Whether it's the
demise of JFK, Princess Diana, Vince Foster, Ron Brown, or a
half-dozen others you could name, someone has a conspiracy story.
My favorites concern rock stars. I've heard stories regarding the
deaths of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, and Brain Jones (the latter
story being darkly hilarious). But...the level of sophistication
with respect to matters of mayhem has become so advanced that,
indeed, it might well be difficult to truly ascertain when a death
is by natural causes as opposed to a nefarious agent. And it is
precisely this difference that is at the heart of RAINFALL by
first-time author Barry Eisler.
Eisler begins things in ominous fashion, putting his readers inside
the head of John Rain, an assassin for hire, as Rain stalks his
"assignment." Rain specializes in, and is retained for, executions
by what appear to be natural causes. As is eventually demonstrated,
however, Rain is quite adept at hand-to-hand dispatching as well.
Trained in the lethal arts by the U. S. Special Forces and honed to
a fine point in the hellfires of Vietnam, Rain, living in Tokyo, is
a quintessential fish out of water: a half-Japanese, half-Caucasian
ronin among obedient samurai, a warrior among lambs in a closed,
insular society where order is a standard.
Rain soon discovers that the principals behind his assignments are
not always who he believes them to be and that his shadowy past is
affecting the present --- and future --- in ways that he cannot
anticipate. His biggest surprise, however, occurs when he finds
himself falling in love with the daughter of one of his victims.
When he learns that his latest assignment is to assassinate her, he
turns his considerable skills to protecting her rather than harming
her. Rain soon finds that he is unable to trust anyone, as forces
seemingly adverse to each other are mutually aligned against him.
Eisler, who spent a considerable amount of time in Japan prior to
writing RAINFALL, demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of the
many facets of Japanese culture as well as a keen, almost uncanny
ability to transpose it into this tale of violence, suspense, and
RAINFALL is the first of what is contemplated as being a series of
novels concerning Rain's exploits. Given the surprising conclusion
to RAINFALL, it is evident that Eisler does not intend to make his
creation's existence a static one. It is my guess that Rain will
undergo a number of situational transformations while his core
personality is maintained. If you're looking for a new author and
an ongoing character to check out in the suspense genre, RAINFALL
is the book you need to pick up.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011