Done: Graveyard of Memories by Bary Eisler, 2013,
Eisler takes us back to 1974 Tokyo with John Rain's beginnings as an assassin. I prefer Eisler's earlier Rain novels that he sets in the modern day but this was good. We learn more about Rain, how he got started started as a hired killer and how his paranoia and preparation began. A neat tour of 1974 Tokyo and Japanese politics.
Rain is 20-years-old and working as a CIA bagman in Tokyo. Rain joined the U.S. Army after lying about his age, served in Vietnam, returned to the U.S., never fit in at the States and went to Japan. Rain served in the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) in Vietnam. SOG was a super secret commando group that served in Laos and Cambodia [I read a book by a former soldier in the unit, John Plasterer. Came out in '98 or so, it was good.] and met a few CIA employees. One of those CIA contacts got him a job as a bag man delivering weekly cash payments from a local CIA agent to a go-fer of the ruling Japanese political party.
Rain is an impetuous person with a temper. That temper gets him in a street fight with three young Japanese men. Rain's combat and Judo training lead to the death of one assailant when Rain flips the guy, smashing his head into the ground. Rain is later attacked at his Judo school by a guy in league with one of the guys Rain fought with.
More trouble happens. Rain really disliked his condescending CIA handler. Rain is on the run because he killed the nephew of a ruling Yakuza boss. Rain deserts his dingy apartment and stays in love hotels. Rain meets and pines for a girl working the desk at a love hotel.
Rain starts learning paranoia. Rain figures the way out of his Yakuza death warrant is to kill the Yakuza boss. Why not? Rain is already a hard-ass killer from his time in the infantry. IN exchange for intelligence on the Yakuza boss his CIA handler requires Rain to kill a political hack for the Japanese party. At the same time - what a coincidence! - Rain gets a feeler offer from the other bagman/go-fer to find an assassin for a different guy.
Rain takes the love hotel girl out on a date. Love Hotel Girl is in a wheelchair. Rain and Love Hotel Girl do the Dirty Deed. Rain does Different Dirty Deeds to three Yakuza, and the two kill-for-pay guys. Rain has more Dirty Deed with Love Hotel Girl. Rain kills more people. Basically, Rain kills his way out of trouble and fakes his own death. Rain has to skip town leaving Love Hotel Girl behind, even though Rain is lovey-dovey for Love Hotel Girl.
Everyone lives happily ever after. (Everyone except for every characters but Love Hotel Girl and Rain's cop friend, WhatsHisName, from the later novels.) Rain goes onto a lifetime of mercenary jobs and assassination kills.
1. Eisler does some fine work.
2. No name dropping in this one. No Wilson Combat, Benchmade, etc. Eisler did spend his usual obsessing on locations though and has a bib. listing sources for the 1974 locations where he sets the novel.
3. Why does blogger spellcheck highlight Eisler in one spot but not another?
4. Eisler puts sex in his sex scenes. He does not fade out.