Eisler, Barry 1964-

views updated

Eisler, Barry 1964-


Born 1964; married. Education: Cornell University, B.A., 1986, J.D., 1989.


Home—San Francisco, CA. Agent—Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates, 146 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003-2404. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, novelist, and attorney. Hamada & Matsumoto, Tokyo, Japan, worked as attorney; Matsushita Electric and Industrial Co. Ltd., Osaka, Japan, counsel; spent three years with U.S. State Department, Washington, DC; U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Directorate of Operations, former covert agent; worked as an executive in a Silicon Valley start-up.


Barry Award, Deadly Pleasures, and Gumshoe Award for best thriller of the year, Mystery Ink, for Rain Storm.



Rain Fall, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2002.

Hard Rain, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2003.

Rain Storm, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2004.

Killing Rain, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2005.

The Last Assassin, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2006.

Requiem for an Assassin, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2007.

Author's works have been translated into twenty languages.


The novel Killing Rain was adapted to audiobook in 2005; the John Rain novels have been optioned for film by producer Barrie Osborne.


Barry Eisler, who has lived and worked in Japan for several years, created the character of Japanese-American Vietnam veteran John Rain for his thriller series that begins in Japan. Rain's character benefits from Eisler's proficiency in the martial arts—he has a black belt in judo—and is also a lover of jazz, like Eisler. Other aspects of Eisler's background help add realism to Rain's adventures—Eisler is an attorney and former business executive who was once a covert operative for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In the opening volume, Rain Fall, called "rich and atmospheric" by a Publishers Weekly critic, the protagonist has become an assassin for hire. Eisler takes Rain through Tokyo's jazz clubs, bars, "love hotels," and the upscale Western shops that flourish there. Rain has no qualms working for anonymous buyers of his creative elimination service, in part because of his Special Forces training and service during the Vietnam conflict. He has also been alienated from both the cultures of his Japanese father and American mother. Rain plants a microchip on the back of a bureaucrat that interferes with the man's pacemaker as they ride in a subway, making it appear as if the man had died of a heart attack. With his "techie" friend Harry, he meets Midori Kawamura, the dead man's daughter, who is a jazz pianist trained at the Juilliard School and who has no idea that Rain had killed her father. Rain saves her life and discovers that a computer disk, which Midori's father had planned to give to the press, contains revelations of political corruption.

Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher felt that the book "is weak in characterization," although "plot and procedure are real standouts." Wilda Williams noted in Library Journal that "with plenty of sex, exotic locations, martial arts action, and high-tech wizardry … this is the perfect summer brain candy for the testosterone set."

The second book in the series, Hard Rain, finds Rain embroiled in a CIA scheme named Crepuscular, the target of which is the Japanese business and political system. Still alone, in spite of occasional relationships, Rain exercises skill in his chosen field. "Hard-boiled down to the ice-cold core of his survival-oriented soul, he's not much more than a machine," commented a Kirkus Reviews writer, "but expertly engineered at that, and fascinating to watch in action." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, however, remarked that it is Eisler's "impressive literary skills that make his John Rain such a fascinating, touching, and wholly believable character."

In Rain Storm, Rain has accumulated enough enemies and grown sufficiently weary of the killing business to escape to Brazil. But the CIA convinces him to take on an assignment involving an arms dealer who is supplying South Asian criminal groups, and Rain finds himself back in business and drawn into an international game that may prove to be more dangerous than he had counted on.

In Killing Rain, set in the Philippines, the assassin Rain retains his reputation for executions that look like accidents or natural events. He is contracted by Israeli intelligence to terminate a weapons dealer who might also have an undercover affiliation with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency; hence, the need for caution. A new element is introduced to the series with the arrival of the target's young son: Rain seems to have developed a conscience and an increasing difficulty in distinguishing between the morality of his own violent activities and those of the men he's been hired to kill. "The plot has enough twists and turns to satisfy," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, as Rain skillfully dodges American and Israeli agents alike. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews also enjoyed the "straightforward" action, calling Killing Rain "a thriller as straight as an arrow, even when mildly deflected by the winds of conscience."

The Last Assassin brings startling news to John Rain: Midori Kawamura has a baby son, and in all likelihood, Rain is the father. This revelation prompts Rain to reconsider his life as an assassin. As he tries to reconnect with Midori and meet his son, he decides that being a father is reason enough to get out of the business of killing altogether. However, in his world, quitting is not as simple as handing in a resignation. Rain's old enemies in the Japanese yakuza, including Yamaoto, are watching over Midori's baby and using the child to lure Rain into a vulnerable position. Midori herself still resents the fact that Rain murdered her father. To help manage the carnage, Rain seeks the help of friend and freelance sniper Dox, and of Delilah, a Mossad agent who is also his lover. Adding further complications to his feelings for Midori, Delilah wants to accelerate their relationship to a higher and more permanent level. The trail to Yamaoto is littered with bodies, but Rain's path to peace may require even greater sacrifice. "Wicked action sequences, smoothly delineated local color, and moments of introspection capture Rain in fine, fraught form," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. In assessing the fifth John Rain book, Booklist reviewer David Pitt observed: "This has been a consistently fine series, and its latest installment is no exception." "Eisler handles all the story's locales, including Manhattan and Barcelona, with considerable aplomb," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Requiem for an Assassin finds Rain still looking for a way to exit his bloody profession. Now living in Paris, he is still involved with Delilah, but is also still determined to find a way to settle down. When Dox is kidnapped by old enemy Jim Hilger, however, Rain must apply his lethal skills to their utmost in order to win his friend's freedom. Hilger has murderous demands: unless Rain slays three specific people within a limited time period, Dox will be killed by his captors. Faced with no choice, Rain accepts Hilger's demands. As the story progresses, the implications of the deaths of his three targets become global in scale, enough to trigger serious international incidents and world-altering changes. Library Journal reviewer Jane Jorgenson called the novel "tense and well crafted," while Entertainment Weekly critic Gilbert Cruz remarked that Eisler proves himself to be "as coolly efficient a writer as his protagonist is a killer."



Booklist, May 15, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Rain Fall, p. 1555; May 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of The Last Assassin, p. 27.

Business Day, September 23, 2006, "Life Is Stranger than Fiction."

Entertainment Weekly, May 25, 2007, Gilbert Cruz, review of Requiem for an Assassin, p. 88.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of Rain Fall, p. 683; May 15, 2003, review of Hard Rain, p. 698; May 1, 2005, review of Killing Rain, p. 494; April 15, 2006, review of The Last Assassin, p. 367.

Library Journal, July, 2002, Wilda Williams, review of Rain Fall, p. 116; April 1, 2007, Jane Jorgenson, review of Requiem for an Assassin, p. 80.

Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002, review of Rain Fall, p. 32; May 26, 2003, review of Hard Rain, p. 45; May 16, 2005, review of Killing Rain, p. 40; April 17, 2006, review of The Last Assassin, p. 163; May 1, 2006, "Paying a Horrible Price: PW Talks with Barry Eisler: PW Caught up with Thriller Writer Eisler, a Former CIA Operative, by Phone in Paris, Where He Was on the Last Leg of a European Promotional Tour," p. 32.

Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri, August 19, 2006, "‘Rain’ Maker Barry Eisler Willing to Suffer for His Art."


Barry Eisler Home Page,http://www.barryeisler.com (August 5, 2007).

Barry Eisler MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/barryeisler (August 5, 2007).

BookReporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (August 5, 2007), Joe Hartlaub, review of Rain Fall.

Books ‘N’ Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (August 5, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Rain Fall and Hard Rain.

Boston.com,http://www.boston.com/ (June 16, 2007), Scott Butki, interview with Barry Eisler.

January Magazine Online,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (August 5, 2007), Kevin Burton Smith, review of Rain Fall.

Japan Today,http://www.japantoday.com/ (August 21, 2001), Chris Betros, "Eisler Takes to Mean Streets of Tokyo with Japanese-American Hit Man John Rain."

Mostly Fiction,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (November 12, 2002), Judi Clark, review of Rain Fall.

Mystery One Bookstore,http://www.mysteryone.com/ (August 5, 2007), interview with Eisler.

Wild River Review,http://www.wildriverreview.com/ (August 5, 2007), Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman, "Thrill-Ride: The Dark World of Mysteries and Thrillers," interview with Barry Eisler.