Rich atmosphere and believable politics in a distinguished debut thriller.
John Rain is a half-American, half-Japanese hit-man for unseen masters in Tokyo, where he passes for a native, though he knows he’ll never completely belong. He has gotten rich by providing elegant eliminations of problem individuals for well-heeled, anonymous purchasers of his “consulting” service. The cold-bloodedness required for this chilling career comes from some very nasty experiences as a member of an American dirty-deeds outfit in Vietnam and from his childhood as an outsider, first in his father’s Japan and then in his mother’s America. Not that he’s a complete monster—he won’t kill children or women—but he’s not particularly interested in the why or who of his contractors or victims. But then the technically satisfying murder (by remote control fritzing of his pacemaker in a subway car) of a ruling party bureaucrat begins to undo Rain’s cool. First, the still-warm corpse of the bureaucrat gets frisked by a Westerner who pops up in the crowded subway car, and then it seems that Rain himself may be the object of a search. Working with his techie pal Harry, Rain follows threads leading to beautiful pianist Midori Kawamura, daughter of the guy he just killed. Sucked in both by her looks and her Julliard-honed jazz skills, Rain befriends Midori, who has no idea he did in Dad but who begins to wonder just what he’s about when he bursts into her building to rescue her from intruders when he should have been on his way home. The intruders, the Westerner on the subway, and many others are all after a disk full of political corruption revelations that Midori’s father was about to pass to the press just before Rain pulled the switch on his ticker. Rain’s black belt comes in exceedingly handy many times before the disk slots into the proper drive.
Pleasantly fast and polished, in the John Sandford style. More Rain predicted.