Normally when a series is written, it is always moving forward. In this case, Barry Eisler decided to go back to the beginning with his character, John Rain, when he was 20 years old.
Rain is a Japanese hit man with a conscious when Barry Eisler wrote the first book, A Clean Kill In Tokyo. In Graveyard of Memories, a younger, more immature version of Rain is in this book without a conscious.
A professional hitman doesn’t get into trouble so easily but that’s what happens when Rain ends up in a fight with two men. Yes, those men started that fight, but they didn’t know who they were messing with. During the fight, Rain kills one of the men. What Rain doesn’t know that he has just killed the son of the leader of the Yakuza.
This is where the story begins for John Rain, trying to get away from these men by hiding out in a hotel where he meets a woman in a wheelchair named Sayaka. Rain is attracted to this woman and now we have a subplot, a romance between Rain and Sayaka.
The book is fast paced with plenty of action as Rain tries to figure out how he is going to get out of the trouble that he got himself into. Once he discusses this problem with his contact, McGraw, the answer seems to be to kill other people in order to get away from the Yakuza.
Eisler is at the top of the game as a result, leading Rain through various challenges that are unexpected as the story moves along. The biggest surprise comes at the end where Eisler shows once again that he can wrap up a story in such a great way.
As far as the romance with Sayaka was concerned, I have to say that it wasn’t a strong part of the book. The biggest reason for that was that happened between Rain and Sayaka that didn’t seem appropriate. I’m not saying that it was anything violent but I have to say that it bothered me enough that I wish that Eisler had left that part of the story out. Going for shock value never seems to work for me and I thought that this brought the romance down for me and made it very weak.
I was surprised that this was done considering that Eisler is so great at writing sex scenes with powerful relationships like the one Rain would have with Midori in A Clean Kill In Tokyo. If anything this was the main reason that I would not give the book five stars but 4 stars instead.