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by Barry Eisler
Thomas & Mercer, February 2014
322 pages
ISBN: 1477818162

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When John Rain gets out of the army in the early 1970's, his skills are limited and so are his options. He has no family left in America, and no real desire to go back to a place where he's never fit in. Japan is almost as unwelcoming. As sometimes happens in this situation, John winds up in a criminal enterprise, serving as a bagman for a CIA handler funnelling money to someone corrupt in the Japanese government. Easy and not too time-consuming. Until one day, a delivery goes bad, violently bad, and John has pissed off one of the most powerful yakuza clans. Seriously upset them. Not good. Quite possibly deadly.

John's CIA handler McGraw has a deal for John. If John will kill someone the CIA would like gone, and kill him in a way that appears to be as natural as possible (thereby arousing minimal suspicion), McGraw will get him the background information needed for John to kill the men from the yakuza who are looking to kill John. This is not a deal John is eager to make, but (again) he has few options that don't result in his getting killed. He made it out of the war and doesn't want to die now.

While John is running from the yakuza and working out deals with McGraw, he is sleeping at a "love hotel" in a part of town known for prostitution. His original plan is to skip from one to another every night, making it almost impossible for the yakuza to find him. The front desk is staffed by a young woman named Sayaka, a woman to whom John is attracted in spite of (or perhaps in part because of) her obvious lack of interest in him.

Eisler takes these fairly basic plot elements and with them tells an intricate, engrossing story of betrayal, love, and the growth of a young man. It's seldom a pretty story, but one doesn't read Eisler for "pretty," does one? Eisler's last book or two of have been growing more anti-government (or so it seems); this book sets the stage for Rain's feelings and reactions in later books. It also gives the reader a believable start to a career that has, at times, seemed a little out of the realm of the possible..

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, May 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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