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Summary

Returning to Tokyo in 1982 after a decade of mercenary work in the Philippines, a young John Rain learns that the killing business is now controlled by Victor, a half-Russian, half-Japanese sociopath who has ruthlessly eliminated all potential challengers. Victor gives Rain a choice: kill a government minister or die a grisly death. But the best route to the minister is through his gorgeous Italian wife, Maria, a route that puts Rain on a collision course not only with Victor but with the shadowy forces behind the Russian's rise to dominance - and the longings of Rain's own conflicted heart.

It's a battle between kingpin and newcomer, master and apprentice, a zero-sum contest that can only end with one man dead and the other the world's foremost assassin.

©2017 Barry Eisler (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Once again a fantastic story, and amazing audio. Barry has an amazing voice and his stories are gripping

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book filling in interesting background.

Barry Eisler has now established himself as best narrator of his own audiobooks. Story some interesting background about how Rain developed as the go to man for lethal dark ops.

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  • shelley
  • 28-06-17

Welcome back John Rain!

Oh Thank You Barry Eisler! I've been hoping that John Rain would make an appearance at some point and that the author hadn't given him up. Since he has been writing some other really good stand alone books I was curious if Rain had been retired.
Anyway back to this book. Basically this book is about John Rain being set up. He's given a difficult assignment of killing a politician by an unbalanced Russian ex spetznaz who is being used by an ex CIA honcho working the wrong side now. The plan is to have Rain complete the job based on intelligence provided by them and they will kill him afterward.
It's very interesting to listen to his introspective examination of his situation and his calculations of how he he will counterattack and his anxiety over whether he can pull it off. This being a much younger John Rain, he has not yet honed his skills to the lethal weapon he will become.
I think Eisler does a fantastic job narrating his own books.
This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
If you found this review helpful please indicate so.
Thank You.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-07-17

Eisler is the Best Narrator for hosting Books

Eisler's pronunciation of Japanese (maybe with a hint of American accent) is certainly a plus. It's nice to have Rain as. "player" again instead of wanting to quit all of the time. It gives the books that take place later in time more depth.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • crazybatcow
  • 16-04-18

Have I mentioned I love Eisler?

Okay, I actually search for and buy every book Eisler releases. I particularly like the John Rain series... every one of them. This was no exception. It is a prequel and shows us a John Rain near the start of his career/learning curve.

The drawback to a prequel is that we lose the suspense of knowing if Rain will 'survive'. But the advantage of it is learning more about him and his character/skills development. And, of course, Eisler has just the right mix of suspense and vigilantism so we do want to see it through to the end to make sure the bad guys got what they deserved.

There is no graphic violence or detailed sex. I think there might have been a handful of swear words, but... maybe not, it was pretty unobtrusive if so. The narration is very good. Eisler has taken to narrating his own books and each one of them is actually better narrated that the one before.

As usual, I will buy any new Rain book, or any book by Eisler, as soon as it is released. (oh, FYI, his Livia Lone is also very good)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 28-06-17

Excellent John Rain suspense thriller!

Listening to Zero Sum just after completing Brad Thor's newest novel in his Scot Harvath series may have affected my rating of this John Rain novel. Although Zero Sum is Book 9 in Barry Eisler's John Rain series, it is the first in the series chronologically; it goes back to 1982 when Rain was around 30 years old. He grew up in both Japan and the US and is very fluent in both languages. Rain dropped out of high school at age 17 to join the US Army and he served in Vietnam. After that he joined the CIA briefly and then moved on to become a contract killer is Japan until he made a major error and was forced to leave the country. He moved to the Philippines for almost a decade before he became persona non grata there so he moved back to Japan in 1982 hoping he would be welcome there. That is the point that this novel starts.

I am a longtime fan of author Barry Eisler and his John Rain series. I rate most of his novels 5 star. Eisler along with his long time friend JA (Joe) Konrath are two of few well established authors with major publishing houses who moved early on to self publishing and they deserves substantial credit along with Amazon and others for bringing down the price of books. He also republished all of first six John Rain novels with new titles and with Eisler himself narrating. I've been very critical of such authors such as Lee Child and Brad Thor for republishing some of their audio novels when I already had copies of the original publication. That criticism does not apply to Barry Eisler although I already owned the original publication of his first six John Rain novels because the narration was much improved and the new versions were inexpensive. Zero Sum for example cost me only $1.99 rather than a full credit.

Eisler has been experimenting with other types of novels for several years. I am very pleased with him returning to his John Rain series. Zero Sum is an excellent addition to the John Rain series, but in my opinion it does not quite deserve 5 star rating for the story itself. Eisler demonstrates again that he is an outstanding narrator. Narration is so good that it brings the overall rating up to 5 stars.

I recommend all novels in the John Rain series because all are worthwhile and because Barry Eisler more than any other established author deserves credit for speeding the acceptance of self publishing.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M.W.
  • 19-05-18

An Average Listen

I stayed until the end, but wouldn't read this again. The plot was marginal and the characters didn't resonate with me.

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  • Richard
  • 01-05-18

Rain reigns in the spy/assassin game

Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about John Rain, Barry throws a curve and goes prequell. One of the best in a long time, full of both action and thoughtful parts. Plenty of action... John Rain is the bad as that Jack Reached wishes he was. Good job Barry, once again.

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  • JC
  • 04-04-18

Definitely Zero Sum

My oh my, how clever John Rain continues to be. This was an excellent novel and the antagonist was beyond wonderful. Why Barry Eisler has not yet made John Rain into a motion picture, I’ll never know. I highly recommend this book to all! Enjoy!

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  • Josh Alford
  • 12-02-18

A decent prequel to the John Rain saga.

Enjoyable as always but not as near the excitement of some of the others in this series. A must for Rain fans but definitely not Eislers best.

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  • J. Carver
  • 17-11-17

Another solid Rain saga

Glad to have Rain back! Story was intriguing. I have only two small complaints. First, Rain seems a bit untouchable as a main character for me. He never gets hurt or seemingly close to injury which is a bit unbelievable. Second, while I like the narrator, his Italian accent was atrocious. But I enjoyed the book immensely and will listen to the next installment. Oh, last thing...one of the things I LOVE about the author is his use of the language. I always learn five or six words I have never heard with each new book!

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  • Nick C.
  • 13-11-17

Starting to sprinkle...

Zero Sum contains a great perspective shift at this point in the John Rain series. Mr. Eisler injects the story with his unique talent to provide the conscience behind the killer. This look into Rain-san's past is loaded with a great villain, an intriguing love-interest, and plenty of insight into the psyche of a very complex man. This series is a personal favorite of mine and I recommend starting at the beginning and enjoying them in order. Eisler is a tremendous narrator as well - given his career and apparent unending skill set, I'm starting to wonder if he might be Batman. AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY