A Clean Kill in Tokyo

John Rain, Book 1
Narrated by: Barry Eisler
Series: John Rain, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,376 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In cart

Publisher's Summary

Name: John Rain.

Vocation: Assassin.

Specialty: Natural Causes.

Base of operations: Tokyo.

Availability: Worldwide.

Half American, half Japanese, expert in both worlds but at home in neither, John Rain is the best killer money can buy. You tell him who. You tell him where. He doesn't care about why… Until he gets involved with Midori Kawamura, a beautiful jazz pianist—and the daughter of his latest kill.

©2002, 2013 Barry Eisler (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Eisler provides a cracklingly good yarn, well written, deftly plotted, and surprisingly appealing… Thomas Perry and Lawrence Block need not retire their hit men quite yet, but Eisler is clearly a challenger." ( Boston Globe)

What listeners say about A Clean Kill in Tokyo

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,304
  • 4 Stars
    766
  • 3 Stars
    236
  • 2 Stars
    44
  • 1 Stars
    26
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,386
  • 4 Stars
    581
  • 3 Stars
    159
  • 2 Stars
    24
  • 1 Stars
    17
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,175
  • 4 Stars
    677
  • 3 Stars
    230
  • 2 Stars
    54
  • 1 Stars
    25

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intelligent, engaging, clever, and instructive

I listen to so many audiobooks (some good and many more that are not so good) that I’m rarely surprised to find a new author or a new series I like. One of Barry Eisler’s books was a “Daily Deal” some time ago, and I liked it so much that I’ve now listened to all of the novels available from Audible.

I don’t write many reviews but I feel an obligation to tell potential Eisler fans about his books.

First, there's frequent and graphic violence. There are occasional sex scenes, though I don't remember gratuitous instances of sexual violence. Nevertheless, the books are not for every one.

Next, look at the prices; they are well below market and when compared to similar books Eisler gives you a lot more bang for the buck, which may be a part of his interesting approach to publishing.

He is among those authors who have successfully used the internet to publish their own stuff; Eisler is among the very few who have had publishers and who have bought back the rights to their own books.

If there's an economy achieved by Eisler reading his own words, the buyer wins in two ways: a lower price and an excellent reader – good voice, good intonation, and good pronunciation of foreign words. (Okay, I don’t if his Japanese is good or terrible, but it sounds good to me.)

The central character is John Rain, the son of a Japanese father and an American mother; a lonely loner raised in both counties and a native speaker of both languages. He comes of age fighting in the jungles of Viet Nam as a special operator who does things that will haunt him forever. Haunted or not he leaves the Army and puts his skills as an accomplished and experienced marital artist to good use by making his living as a contract assassin.

He specializes in murdering people in a way that makes the death look natural. He doesn’t murder just anyone: no women, no children and “principals only.” Those with ties to the CIA can be a customer or a target.

He has a couple of love interests; the mother of his child usually wants nothing to do with him. The other is a Mossad agent whose specialty is the seduction of repulsive men who happen to be enemies of Israel. She and Rain meant for each other but her work comes first, even though her colleagues then to look down on her because of her particular specialty.

Rain, the character, is developed slowly, and you learn a little bit more about him – usually some aspect of his existential angst – in each book, which are all driven by well-designed, and fast moving plots.

Somewhat in the style I first encountered in the Michael Crichton books, Eisler infuses his stories with both interesting information and interesting inquiry. The information might come in the form of scenic descriptions as Rain moves from one place to another. This is particularly effective when Rain is in Japan and the description of a Japanese landscape is combined with asides about culture and language. These messages feel like skillful summaries written by someone who knows a lot about whatever the subject happens to be.

Eisler exploits (in a positive sense) the fact that the genre invites consideration of political and moral issues. The subject of torture is a good example. Eisler has his own opinion and it’s probably strongly held, but instead of simply putting it into the mouth of an attractive character, he employs the principles of debate and civic discourse by stating the strongest case for various perspectives before he rebuts them and makes the case for his own. As the series progresses the issues addressed get bigger and the characters express different political philosophies, which are explicit, thoughtful and coherent.

There are now eight John Rain books and two Ben Travin. The Travin books stand on their own and the stories merge. There’s probably an ideal order for listening, but I’m not sure what it is. Checkout Eisler’s website and his Wikipedia. He’s a smart and accomplished guy. I’m grateful that he has spent so much of his time and talent on an enterprise that for me is entertaining, amusing and instructive.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Flaws

The human mind is so complex, so vast, yet, so inherently primal. Barry Eisler captures this oxymoron in a very ingenious set of ways.

This is the first audiobook that I have listened to that was narrated by the author, so I was a little skeptical at first. Eisler does a good job, not a superb one, but he nailed the protagonist, so in my humble opinion, that's all that really matters.

The way the story is laid out takes you through the mind of an imaginary man that could be any one of us. Half american, half japanese, Eisler takes you through the struggles of being born of two cultures. Although the protagonist is mixed, his struggles are strikingly similar to any immigrant's story of living in two places, and having to adjust to both after living in one place for a while then returning to the land of their birth.

Tons of action in this story, and the storyline has lots of coincidences, that in the end turn out to be beautiful flaws of not just the main character, but mankind in general.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A shark must keep swimming or it will die

STORY (suspense) - John Rain is half Japanese and half American. He was part of American special missions in Vietnam and experienced the atrocities of war. Now he finds himself having painful flashbacks and is unable to adapt to normal life. He sees himself as a shark who must keep swimming...a man who must keep killing. John makes his living as an assassin who specializes in making victims look like they died naturally, and he is sought by those who want to hire him and those who want to stop him. He is a likeable guy, and he has scruples. (Yeah, I know, an assassin with scruples?) You will like John and root for him.

This story is set in Tokyo. John kills a man and then later meets his lovely daughter, Midori, who is a jazz pianist. He learns she is in danger and tries to protect her. They have a romantic relationship, but it plays a very small part in the story. There is quite a bit of action and intrigue, and the story is fast-paced. John is expert at surveillance and pretty bad a$$ at martial arts, and his assassinations are creative. I enjoyed "visiting" the streets of Tokyo and hearing bits of Japanese culture and language. And I loved the ending.

PERFORMANCE - Barry Eisler, the author, performs his own work and does a great job. His Japanese sounded fluent, but I'm not one to judge. He had the perfect voice for John. Midori sounded a little masculine, but I was still glad that he gave her a distinctive voice.

OVERALL - There is quite a bit of violence and cussing and a teeny bit of non-explicit sex. This is the first book in a series and the story stands alone. I probably won't continue the series further because it's not my particular cup of tea, but all the books are very highly rated. Recommended for adult listeners, especially guys.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!!!!

This is my first Barry Eisler. I usually don't think that it's a good idea for the author to read his own book, but I was wrong. This was a wonderfully written and expertly read book. I feel I learned so much about the Japanese culture customs and beliefs that I almost want to visit. Almost. However, the ending upset me, I understand why but I was just hoping things would have turned out differently. It made me cry, can you believe that? I cried. Great book, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Grrrrr

Foiled again. I thought from the excellent reviews that this was a safe choice. Alas, it is a very uneven and self-indulgent first novel set in Tokyo - and the listener is not permitted to forget this fact, not once.

I think maybe it was started as a YA novel but then the author realized it would have a wider audience if he threw in some startling violence. And it was startling because most of the first three hours are devoted to wearying and unnecessary background stories of everyone mentioned by name and their relatives, plus a name-dropping tour through Tokyo's jazz scene and whisky bars. When the hero kills someone by breaking his neck I was abruptly reminded that this was supposed to be a novel about an assassin and not a magazine article about Japan. It was at that point that I realized I wasn't enjoying the listening experience at all and gave up with half the book to go.

Be warned.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Slow Plod

Lots of impressive Japanese language that does very little to enhance the story-line. Story goes nowhere for the first third of the book which was when I gave up and deleted it from my device.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!

Barry Eisler spins a very interesting and exciting tale. I don't normally read much fiction, but since Mr. Eisler is also an outstanding orator, I'm adding him to my list.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A love affair with Toyko and an assassin

I enjoyed this more than I expected . The backdrop of Tokyo provides a complex and interesting background for a good, if not unique, storyline. I found it a little difficult to keep up with all the Japanese phraseology and names at first but after awhile it sort of sinks in and becomes familiar . The author is the narrator and his voice is a little sleep inducing. However, I liked him well enough to download the second book in the series.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Barry Eisler's first John Rain novel

Originally titled Rain Fall and later released as A Clean Kill in Tokyo with Barry Eisler narrating, this novel demonstrates the difference great narration makes. I rated Rain Fall 4 stars and A Clean kill in Tokyo 5 stars with the only difference being narration. I used one credit to purchase Rain Fall in 2012, while A Clean Kill in Tokyo cost $3.98 for both the Audible and Kindle versions combined.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Where have you been all my life??

Would you listen to A Clean Kill in Tokyo again? Why?

Absolutely will because eventually I will finish all his books (have already purchased every one) and I will start the series all over again.

Any additional comments?

I spend much of every day ear-reading because I suffer major vision loss from diabetes, so I consider myself to have a WIDE experience in recorded books. Barry is one of the very best narrators I've ever heard. He brings every character to life and keeps you listening because you just can't wait to see what happens.

4 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-20

I really enjoyed the story

Well done great read , I enjoyed both the story and your voice , the voice is important to me

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for johanna
  • johanna
  • 12-07-19

Little while to get into

I tried 3 times to get into this book and the third try was the charm. I am very glad I stuck with it as it turned out to be great. Characters were laid out well plot could be followed (mostly) and a great ending leading me to find out what John does next... So I am off to start the next instalment

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mike T.
  • Mike T.
  • 08-28-18

Tokyo almost overwhelms the good story.

The Tokyo backdrop is prominent to say the least. An interesting approach to frame a very "Japanese" intrigue and story.
I liked it. A lot. A mix of noir, high tech and assassin action.

Easily one of the better author narrations I've listened to.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joshua Manuel-Oni
  • Joshua Manuel-Oni
  • 08-07-18

Surprisingly Great

Don't judge a book by its cover (and synopsis in this case). I received this book as part of a two for one sale. My expectations were low, and I expected I had acquired an average. However there is so much good to this book. Except from a well paced story, Barry Eisler know how to make the reader feel familiar with Japan culture and surrounding, even if you've never been

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-29-17

Amazing

Narration is really very good, story is brilliant. I love all Barry Eisler books. Amazing!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for R.B
  • R.B
  • 02-21-16

Not a Great First Book.

I found this book to be little more than someone's research turned in to book form. I heard a great author once say something like, "the whole point of doing research, was so that you can leave most of it out." With "A Clean Kill in Tokyo" that certainly isn't the case. It's clear that the author is basing the main character, John Rain, on himself. Even that would be fine if it weren't so obvious.
On a positive note, the narration by Barry Eisler wasn't too bad, and the basic storyline itself was ok. There was just too much pointless added research, disguised as information in between.
Overall, even though I didn't like this book, I'd still be willing to give another Barry Eisler novel a chance. It didn't put me off so much that it made me want to stay away from anything else he has written. And I think that with a bit more subtleness, and character development, that the John Rain series could be good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Rifflart
  • S. Rifflart
  • 12-15-15

The authors narration dies his work proud

This is my first Rain book and I loved it and will listen to them all if I get the chance. The author has a great voice and its subtle tones work well with the subject matter set in Japan. The plot was excellent and Rain is likeable yet merciless when necessary
Keep Raining on my parade!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark W
  • Mark W
  • 11-17-17

The original.

A great introduction to the series, this is one of the best in the series, and well worth the listen. It's gritty, dark and interesting.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nicky Australia
  • Nicky Australia
  • 07-16-17

Brilliant Narration and Story Emersion

Incredibly well narrated by the Author. I shy away from author narrated books . Eisler is the exception.
A well writen book with character emersion .
I originally shyed away from recommending this book to people who are not familiar with Japan .
I was proved wrong by gifting Eisler's books to friends.
They told me I got them onto a very good series

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tanvir
  • Tanvir
  • 02-08-15

Satisfied

Great plot, great execution and attention to details. Wish the author good luck. I wish it lasted a little longer