A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain, #2) - Barry Eisler Listened to this audiobook, read by Dick Hill who does a terrific job with pronouncing Japanese. At least it sounds authentic. Not having any clue, I wouldn’t know, but the perception of authenticity is as good as reality. And, of course, I’ll misspell all the names.

Eisler recreates an authentic Japanese world and culture, at least the seamier side -- apparently, as again, I have no experience with reality. But then, the book is a chimera, and creates a duality from contrast of Japanese culture with the protagonist, a paranoid (can you really be paranoid if everyone is really after you?) assassin, hired by a government spook, Tatsu, his former nemesis to undertake some selective murder, but it’s all in a good cause.

Rain spends most of his time and effort in avoiding detection and circumventing security devices and people, a life which seems devoid of entertainment -- and here Rain is different from Parker and Quarry and Thomas Perry’s nameless assassin, -- except for his love of piano jazz. That struck me as a substantial chink in his armor as his predilection for a particular artist. Midori, daughter of one of Rain’s previous hits, would imply easy entry into his world. Nevertheless, Eisler’s description of Rain’s world is rich and revealing of Japanese cultural differences.

Rain has his own code (no children or women and the targets must be principals, not just “to send a message”) and few friends whom he trusts, one being Harry, the electronics genius, who figures prominently in this story. He also specializes in killing people so the result appears to be of natural or accidental provenance. (One always wonders whether the intricate detail in books like this become prescriptions for some people.)

Eisler muses on Japanese political culture and the relationship between the United States and Japan. Here one of Japan’s top policemen is embarked on a personal crusade to eliminate corruption, yet, as Rain points out Japan’s true power lies in the bureaucracy, and politicians are merely paid lip service. The CIA is also involved, running its own Iran Contra type of operation even setting up one of its own to take an Oliver North kind of fall. The plot is complicated with numerous subplots all nicely tied together by Tokyo’s ambiance.

As I read a particularly affecting scene as Rain recounts his first kill while a sniper in Vietnam, I realized that many of the aforementioned hitmen protagonists learned their trade in Vietnam and realized once out they had no marketable skills except killing, and that they had developed a particularly emotion-less view of life and death.

My sole complaint would be the the writing/reading descriptions of hand-to-hand combat and extreme violence are hardly credible as they often border on caricature. While one could read this as a standalone, I would recommend reading the first in the series, Rain Fall, for a better grounding in the back story of some of the characters.