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THE LAST ASSASSIN by Barry Eisler

THE LAST ASSASSIN

By Barry Eisler

Pub Date: June 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-15359-4
Publisher: Putnam

Pffft. The man quivered and sank to the ground. . . . The other guy didn’t see it. . . . Pffft. I dropped him, too, another head shot.” When high-end assassin John Rain is working for personal rather than professional reasons, the bodies pile up fast.

This fifth volume in Eisler’s series (Killing Rain, 2005, etc.) finds Rain trying to reestablish contact with his former lover, Midori. Through friends, Rain has learned he is likely the father of Midori’s baby son. The problem: Midori is the daughter of one of Rain’s hits, and she knows it. Another problem: One of Rain’s many enemies, the yakuza Yamaoto, is using Midori and the baby to lure Rain into his murderous sights. This will not stop Rain from meeting his son; he also harbors the hope that he can reunite with Midori. Even in his strange and emotionally messy world, that would be improbable—Midori, after all, loved her father. Still, their first meeting offers a glimmer of the prospect. More importantly, storywise, once Rain lays eyes on his son, he will not stand for anything threatening the child’s wellbeing. A trail of bodies follows Rain as he tracks the root problem, Yamaoto, and the dénouement is a nice piece of mayhem. Rain’s friend Dox, a freelance sniper, returns to lend a hand. So does Delilah, a Mossad agent placed on leave for giving Rain too much help with his last caper, who wants her relationship with Rain to move beyond that of lover. This puts Rain in a quandary regarding Midori, and it highlights Eisler’s special knack for bringing nuance to the implications of Rain’s nihilism. Can love really conquer all? Is Rain’s retirement from work possible? When, if ever, is it acceptable to kill? Is he, purely and simply, delusional?

Wicked action sequences, smoothly delineated local color and moments of introspection capture Rain in fine, fraught form.