Should You Read This Series? John Rain by Barry Eisler

should you read this seriesThere are so many series out there with lots and lots of books published and I know you wonder…which ones are worth the read? Today we start a new monthly feature where we tell you which series you should start and which ones you shouldn’t. As a ground rule, series in this feature must have at least 3 books published and the reviewer must have read at least 60% of the series. If you want us to feature a series in the future, please ask in the comments. If we have read it, we will definitely let you know our opinion.

Red dividerSERIES: John Rain by Barry Eisler
GENRE: Thriller
BOOKS PUBLISHED TO DATE: 8 + several novellas

a clean kill in tokyoa lonely resurrectionwinner take allredemption gamesextremisthe killer ascendantthe detachmentgraveyard of memories

SERIES STATUS: Ongoing (last book published Feb 2014)
D.G. HAS READ: 5/8 (63%)
SHOULD YOU READ THIS SERIES? Yes! Start right away!

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What Is This Series About? The books are action packed thrillers and follow an assassin, John Rain, as he goes about the business of seriously kicking ass. In the first book – A Clean Kill in Tokyo/Rain Fall– his careful life is thrown into disarray when he gets involved with Midori, the daughter of his latest kill. This relationship has a profound influence in his life and is his impetus for trying to get out of the assassination business – that’s easier said than done, of course. The plots are woven with real world events and as such, are set all over the world.

Why Should You Read It? The plots are exciting and well researched with nuanced, three-dimensional characterization. Mr. Eisler strikes the right emotional balance without getting maudlin. (I haven’t finished the series because I want to ‘stretch them out’ but I’m really dying to continue.)

The Main Character: John Rain is a half Japanese, half American assassin whose specialty is natural causes – if you want to kill somebody but don’t want to make it look like an assassination, you now know who to call! He has two rules: he only kills principals (meaning, the person who has actually aggrieved you/you need to get out of the way) and no women or children. (His clients are smart enough to know what would happen to them if they don’t respect his rules.)

Rain has a black belt in Judo and is a war veteran with a great knowledge of firearms and other defensive tactics. One of his most notable traits is his ability to think like the opposition. This has saved his bacon more than once as he’s always ready for mayhem. He’s constantly thinking: if somebody wanted to kill me/ambush me/watch me, how would they do it? It makes for a very paranoid existence, but in Rain’s case, they are really out to get him.

John Rain is a very complex character. His “business” persona is all you could expect of an assassin: tough, knowledgeable, smart, careful, capable, detailed-oriented and creative – you need lots of inventiveness to kill people without anybody finding out. But in personal matters he’s introspective, charismatic, gentle, emotionally vulnerable and solitary. He’s never belonged either in Japan or the US and war damaged something in him, to the point that he wears his isolation like a mantle. This changes a bit as the series progresses but he has problems trusting other people, even though he craves to.

Romlondon-twistaPrintntic Interests: Rain really likes the ladiesso there is some hooking up – some encounters are more explicit than others. Rain pines a lot for Midori in the eaparis-is-a-bitchrlier books but he still goes out with other women (he’s pining, not dead.) He’s not a man-whore though.

Settings: Big cities of the world – Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Manila, New York, etc. Mr. Eisler has a way of making each city almost a character in their own right. The descriptions of streets, buildings and local people give you a real feeling for the places, as if you were there.

The Audiobooks: Mr. Eisler recently re-recorded the audiobooks with himself as the narrator and he did an excellent job. The other versions have different narrators in almost each book so for continuity’s sake, go with Mr. Eisler’s versions. They are really good.

Series Tips:
– If you don’t want to get spoilers, don’t read the descriptions of books 4+.
– The books could be theoretically read as standalones but the relationships build in each book. Book #8 is a prequel to the series but I still recommend you start in order of publication.
– The first 6 books in the series were first published under different titles. Mr. Eisler never thought they were right for the stories and changed them as soon as he ended the relationship with his publisher.

Series Reading Order
1. A Clean Kill in Tokyo, previously published as Rain Fall (my Goodreads review)
2. A Lonely Resurrection, previously published as Hard Rain
3. Winner Take All, previously published as Rain Storm (my Goodreads review)
4. Redemption Games, previously published as Killing Rain (my Goodreads review)
5. Extremis, previously published as The Last Assassin
6. The Killer Ascendant, previously published as Requiem for an Assassin
6.5 Paris is a Bitch (novella)
7. The Detachment
8. Graveyard of Memories
Plus 2 other shorts: The Khmer Kill & London Twist, featuring two secondary characters.

Prices: Kindle ebooks are $3.99/$4.99 (free if you have a Prime membership). Audiobooks are Whispersync enabled so even if you don’t have an Audible membership, you could get them for $1.99.

About the Author: Mr. Eisler barry eislerspent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he’s not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law. –from the author’s website

(I confess I have a bit of a crush on Mr. Eisler – he’s cute, talented and has a nice voice. ;))


Series Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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