Requiem for an Assassin
And as word choices go, "requiem" (a mass for a deceased person) is extraordinarily appropriate. John Rain, who paced across the pages of each novel as though a ghost, never belonging to any single society or culture (John, the half-breed: half-Japanese and half-American), never surrounding himself with friends for fear he must assassinate them (as he did his best friend during the Vietnam war, Crazy Jake), and never trusting anyone, but himself...
"Losing people, and not being able to properly grieve them, shrinks your world. You try to avoid attachments, anything that could hurt you if you lose it. You start to say don't mean nothing about everything, the important things especially. You learn that only a few people can be trusted, fewer and fewer, in fact. You feel used..."and
"I lay in bed for a long time, thinking, trying to unwind. I wanted to see her, but at the same time I was afraid to. Afraid of what she'd make of me. Which was stupid, of course. Why should I even care what she thought, or anyone else? And if anyone could understand...Yes, the same John Rain who had moved through his world as though a ghost -- observing but never truly participating -- now becomes a ghost as he senses his own imminent death.
No one can understand. No one.
Lying in another anonymous bed in another random hotel room, back in the life as though I'd never left it, I thought I should just let Delilah go. Already my relationship with her felt improbable, inapplicable, absurd. What could I have with her, anyway? ... It didn't matter. Whatever we had, it was gone, another moment alchemized to memory. I should just accept that. I should just move on, alone. It was all I was ever good for. It was all I could really trust."
Rain's thoughts become increasingly melancholy throughout these six books, but never more so than in this novel, as he considers versions of himself that never were and never could be. He realizes with a mixture of sadness and fondness that the two key people who remain in his life -- Dox and Delilah -- still make demands on his consciousness and talents, even though they themselves never do. Rain becomes utterly lost, with no direction to turn except the one in which he is forced, when his enemies abduct Dox and, arguably worse, Delilah confides she is in love with John. Thus, he confronts his most difficult enemy yet that he must kill... Himself. And so begins the requiem.
Requiem for an Assassin is Barry Eisler’s most tightly-plotted, tautly-written, finest novel yet. Difficult though it was, I slowed my reading pace to savor better all the included exposition; Barry really shines with these asides re relationships, politics, economics, and terrorism, etc. Not to forget the spy’s ‘tradecraft’. Barry is fully in charge of writing style, plot, themes, ideas, character, and setting. (What would be a Rain novel without setting as a character in and of itself?)
This novel abounds with many pleasures for its readers. Enjoy!
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist