Literature / John Rain

A series of novels by author and former CIA employee Barry Eisler. Deals with Hitman with a Heart John Rain, who specializes in killing in such a way that it looks like natural causes. Rain's years of training in the Special Forces, CIA, and as an assassin for hire manifest themselves in a deep-seated paranoia and an inability to trust anyone, which complicates his personal relationships.

The novel Rain Fall was made into a 2009 movie, starring Kippei Shina and Gary Oldman.

A TV series based on the novels is currently in development, with Keanu Reeves onboard to star in and Executive Produce, alongside Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.

Tropes featured in this work include:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Rain keeps flirting with the idea of retiring, but never goes through with it due to circumstances or the belief that he can't give up the life.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: A literary version. While there are some nasty fight scenes which often leave Rain's opponent dead, or severely handicapped for life, there are scenes where Rain is just walking through the night streets of Tokyo (or wherever he might be) and reminiscing about his childhood days, the friends he has lost, the psychological trauma of violence, etc.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Delilah's job with Mossad is to seduce targets to get information. She's routinely despised by her colleagues for her methods, although they have no problem using the intelligence she provides.
    • Similarly, although Dox was respected in the Marines for his sniper skills, he was shunned because he didn't fit the Cold Sniper stereotype.
    • Rain himself; when growing up in Japan and the United States he was bullied for his foreign blood. This only increased his sense of isolation from society.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Averted. The martial arts represented are realistic, brutal and efficient.
  • The Atoner: Tatsu tries to play on this to recruit Rain for his own plans, but Rain is too cynical to really take it on board.
  • Author Appeal: Like John Rain, author Barry Eisler is an accomplished martial artist; likewise, Rain's workout routine (described in depth in the books) is based on Eisler's own.
    • After working for a short time at the CIA Directorate Of Operations, Eisler became a lawyer and lived in Japan for several years. Hence the lovingly described Tokyo settings and Japanese cultural practices.
  • Badass Crew: In The Detachment, you have John Rain, Dox, Ben Treven and Daniel Larison. Seriously, you would be scared shitless if even one of them came after you. When all four come after you, oh boy.
    • Also applies to the main Power Trio of Dox, Delilah, and Rain as well. Each of them are highly skilled operatives, and are almost unstoppable when working together.
  • Badass Israeli: Mossad agent and Rain's sometime lover Delilah.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dox is a huge, very friendly man who LOVES a good fight.
  • Broken Pedestal: Midori, in a big way for Rain.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Well CIA evil and Japanese police force cooperative as the case may be. As the series progressed however, Rain cultivated a friendship with an officer who rises to become Tokyo Station chief making this trope more subdued.
  • Combat Pragmatist: To say Rain is a brutal fighter is an understatement.
  • The Cracker: Rain's departed friend, Harry.
  • Cultured Badass: In addition to being a deadly assassin, Rain is also a connoisseur of Jazz music and single malt whiskey.
  • The Dreaded: Rain is this to what few adversaries of his who manage to stay alive, with Yamaoto scared shitless of him and still taking precautions against him years after they cross paths.
  • Easily Forgiven: Rain has killed people working for the CIA and Tatsu. That doesn't stop either party from wanting to employ his services, because his skills are in short supply.
  • Fight Clubbing: In Hard Rain, a Yakuza boss runs the occasional Deadly Game using members of a dojo he's running, but Rain points out that he'd barely break even on the gambling money, when set against the large prize money awarded to the winners. Tatsu suggests that the actual goal is either to desensitize the fighters to killing so they can be recruited as assassins, or so the boss has a pool of muscle he can draw upon if Japan falls into political turmoil.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In the titular novel, the Detachment fits very well into this:
    • Rain: Melancholic.
    • Dox: Sanguine.
    • Larison: Choleric.
    • Treven: Phlegmatic.
  • Friend to All Children: Dox is good with people in general, but especially with kids, something Rain admits he envies.
  • Friend on the Force: Kanezaki, a low ranking CIA officer who rises to become chief of Tokyo station and Tatsuhiko, former director of Keisatsucho who still has great influence within Japanese law enforcement.
  • Friendly Sniper: Former Marine sniper Dox. Dox is actually short for "Unorthodox," a nickname he received for not fitting the Cold Sniper stereoptype. Interestingly though, when he does get behind the scope, he totally becomes more focused and cold.
  • Genius Bruiser: Rain. Unlike most fictional assassins who normally resort to shooting their targets, he prefers to strategically sabotage the environment around his victims in order to leave no trace of human involvement. He's also a near unstoppable martial artist, and a connoisseur of Tokyo's Jazz scene.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Two of Rain's rules are "no women, no children," and "principal targets only" (no hits on family members/etc. to send a message).
  • I Have Your Friend: In Requiem for an Assassin, Hilger kidnaps Dox to force Rain to carry out several hits for him. Of course both sides know that Hilger can't afford to let either of them live, because they'd come after him for revenge.
  • Improvised Weapon: A necessity in Japan where Rain finds it difficult to get hold of a firearm on short notice.
  • In Love with the Mark: Rain falls in love with Midori, the daughter of a man he's killed. Deconstructed in that after she learns that he killed her father, she hates him for a long time, and eventually betrays him.
  • It's Personal: In Hard Rain, Rain is asked to kill an Evil Counterpart hitman. He decides it's too risky and refuses the assignment, until the hitman kills Harry. Rain even breaks his "no women" rule to kill a Honey Trap who assisted in the murder.
  • Knife Nut: Both Dox and Rain in later books, with Eisler providing loving descriptions of the high-quality blades they use. When possible, Rain favors a Benchmade folder, while Dox is particularly fond of a Fred Perrin Le Griffe he picked up a few books in.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: Rain with Dox, and earlier Harry with Rain.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Rain's specialty is assassinations that look either like accidents or natural causes.
  • Neck Snap: Thanks to Rain's martial arts expertise, he uses this a lot for a Coup de Grâce.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Rain notes that Dox tends to play up his "good ol' boy" image, hiding how perceptive and deadly he really is.
  • Origins Episode: "Graveyard Of Memories". Set in the 1970's, it centers around a young John Rain who takes part in the Real Life Lockheed bribery scandal, finds then loses his first love and becomes a fugitive from the CIA.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Treven in The Detachment. While he's a top-notch gunfighter (with Larison's inner monologue mentioning that Treven had the best combat shooting skills of the crew), he felt out of place in the spycraft aspects of their mission, especially compared to Rain.
  • Rogue Agent:
    • Biddle, the CIA station chief in Hard Rain, is running an operation that's been officially shut down, and using Kanezaki as the fall guy by arranging to frame him as a rogue.
    • Tatsu is running his own Cowboy Cop operation to assist reformist elements of Japanese society. He tries to recruit Rain as his assassin, with limited success.
    • Jim Hilger is a CIA agent who's eventually revealed to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Smug Snake: Colonel Horton in The Detachment.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Rain notes that Kanezaki, initially an inexperienced CIA agent, rapidly improves in confidence and bargaining ability as time goes on.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Rain is an average-sized, middle aged Asian man who doesn't look to be much of a threat. A veritable army of mercenaries, goons, and assassins have discovered to their own peril just how false that is. This is actually mentioned as one of Rain's distinct advantages; while others (such as Larison) radiate a dangerous demeanor, Rain does not, allowing him to quickly close in for the kill without alerting suspicion.
  • Yellowface: Half Japanese/half American, Rain has had plastic surgery and uses hair dye to appear full-blooded Japanese, in order to better fit in. Ironically, he usually goes by his American name, John Rain, in place of his given Japanese name, Junichi Fujiwara.
  • You Owe Me:
    • There's a lot of bargaining of favours whenever Rain interacts with Friend on the Force characters.
    • Dox throws away a bag containing five million dollars to carry Rain to safety. Rain himself wouldn't do that, so he's willing to go to great lengths to protect Dox in payment.

Alternative Title(s): Barry Eisler