What makes a legendary assassin? For John Rain, it was the lessons of love, war, and betrayal he learned in Tokyo in 1972.

Fresh from the killing fields of Southeast Asia, Rain works as a bagman under the watchful eye of his CIA handler, delivering cash to corrupt elements of the Japanese government. But when a delivery goes violently wrong, Rain finds himself in the crosshairs of Japan’s most powerful yakuza clan. To survive, Rain strikes a desperate deal with his handler: take out a high-profile target in the Japanese government in exchange for the intel he needs to eliminate his would-be executioners.

As Rain plays cat and mouse with the yakuza and struggles to learn his new role as contract killer, he also becomes entangled with Sayaka, a tough, beautiful ethnic Korean woman confined to a wheelchair. But the demands of his dark work are at odds with the longings of his heart—and with Sayaka’s life in the balance, Rain will have to make a terrible choice.

The book features the assassin, John Rain, in his earlier years back in 1972 in this prequel to the series. The plot wasn’t too complicated, and there were a few good action scenes to keep the flow going. It wasn’t as exciting as some of his earlier works, but still a solid entertaining thriller.

For those of you who are familiar with Rain, you’ll be happy to know how he went from being in the Vietnam war, to being a bagman for the CIA, to eventually winding up as an assassin-for-hire. Fans will also learn why he doesn’t trust the CIA. Even though I miss Dox and Treven, the story wasn’t bogged down with too many characters to slow down the story. However, at times I got lost among the Japanese names (which is normal, considering that I do not speak the language).

Fans of Barry Eisler will enjoy it as will those who aren’t familiar with John Rain.

4 Stars

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