Rain Fall


Barry Eisler


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

August 28, 2004

This book is a flawed first novel. It might merit only one star, except some of the action sequences are well down. There is some good suspenseful moments when our hero returns to the bad guys headquarters in a determined attempt to plant a bug. (However, although the bug remains in place, after the first eavesdropped conversation, we never again get a reference to the bug, I guess because it would reveal the plans of the villans, and that would spoil of the plot when our hero gets surprised again.)

John Rain is the hero, though I suppose anti-hero is a better description. He murders innocent men for money (but never kills women or child, so I guess that somehow makes him a man of principals?) John Rain was one of the youngest men in Vietnam, but even if he entered the service at age 17 in the latter half of the war, he would still be almost 50 years old when RainFall occurs, which makes all his successful fights with the thugs pretty unlikely. John Rain specializes in committing these murders so that it seems as if the deaths were due to natural causes, though we never get an explanation of how this occurs. At the beginning of the tale, he is stalking Kawamura. John Rain slips up behind Kuwamura and placed the magnet on Kawamura's left shoulder. A magnet? Is Kawamura made of metal? Rain then activates software on his PDA that causes the magnet to reprogram the Kawamura's pace maker to a fatal level. Kawamura dies. How absurd is that? A failed pacemaker is not going to look like death due to natural causes. And would a failed pacemaker result in a fatality? After all, people are alive (though not well) when the pacemakers are put in.

John Rain has a buddy named Harry who is a stereotype computer genius, he can hack into any system in the world, retrieve any data, and never gets caught. And Harry exists only to solve problems for Rain, despite his incredible hacking skills, he never does anything on his own. As an example - at one point in the novel Rain visits Harry's place. Harry doesn't have a refrigerator or air conditioning or other electric stuff, because his computers consume a whole lot of power, and he read once that police traced high power consumption to indoor marijuana growers, and Harry doesn't want the police come knocking on his door. Yet it never occurs to the world's greatest hacker that he could simply alter the computer records of his power meter?

After he murders Kawamura, John Rain goes to a jazz club. Mama, the owner of the establishment, insists that John Rain meet Midori - who turns out to be the beautiful daughter of Kawamura, the man he just killed! It was such an unlikely coincidence that I was sure Mama was part of a plot, but it turns out that this incredible coincidence is just that: a coincidence. It turns out that her father had a secret computer disk that must be retrieved. No one knows where it is! Therefore, John Rain gets a call to kill Midori Kawamura! Why do the bad guys want her dead? There is no explanation for this, certainly they will never get the disk from her that way. John Rain decides he must help Midori. So he kills Mr Bland, who is shadowing her. Why doesn't Rain take Mr Bland's wallet after he murders him? He would find out that Mr Bland was a policeman. John Rain bugs Midori's room for her own protection. When she finds out that he has done this, she is upset and demands an explanation. No explanation is forthcoming, so after an argument they make love - right! Of course, John Rain is a masterful lover.

Why does Rain attack the man with the cane who has already been lured out of his house? The guy is off to the train station, what is accomplished by killing him? Why does Rain give the disk to Bullfinch? He already KNOWS that Bullfinch is being followed - so he gives him the disk and is amazed when Bullfinch dies. Why does the chief of police ask Rain to join the side of the goodguys at the end - how many police forces need an assassin that can kill people and make it look like a natural death? Wouldn't the chief instead prosecute Rain for killing Mr Bland?

How many times are the thugs going to fall for the "look at how weak and helpless I am trick" so that Rain and surprise them with expert fighting skills - especially when the thugs boss' are acutely aware of how good a fighter Rain is? Why is Rain surprised and hurt to discover that the bad guys have been using him all along to kill their enemies - did he think the good guys paid assassins to murder their foes? There are tons more coincidences (everyone Rain met in Vietnam 35 years ago seems to appear in this novel.) The plot is stupid. Rain never shows any remorse for his killing. Rain is absurdly snobbish about his drinking and jazz (James Bond with his "shaken, not stirred" line is cool. John Rain: "I sipped the Ardbeg, peat and smoke meandering across my tongue and throat")

This is a poor book. It has an unbelievable plot and unlikeable characters. Not recommended.