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.

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:

  • 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.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts: Averted. The martial arts represented are realistic, brutal and efficient.
  • 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.
  • Badass Israeli: Mossad agent and Rain's sometime lover Delilah.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dox is a huge, very friendly man who LOVES a good fight.
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In the titular novel, the Detachment fits very well into this:
    • Rain: Melancholic.
    • Dox: Sanguine.
    • Larison: Choleric.
    • Treven: Phlegmatic.
  • 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).
  • Knife Nut: Both Dox and Rain in later books, with Eisler providing loving descriptions of the high-quality blades they use.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Rain's specialty is assassinations that look either like accidents or natural causes.
  • 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 looses his first love and becomes a fugitive from the CIA.
  • Smug Snake: Colonel Horton in The Detachment.
  • 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