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Zero Sum

Narrated by: Barry Eisler
Series: John Rain, Book 9
Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's 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.
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A great book but a bit too romance heavy.

Eisler continues the John rain series with John this time facing off against Victor.

I've read all 9 Rain Novels and love them all and I would say Victor is an exceptional enemy, one of the best Rain has faced. This book is good and stands well with the series, but is faulted heavily by the absolute non-stop romance sub-plot (that probably has twice the page count as the actual main plot).

When the enemy is as well written and mysterious as Victor, it should have really being a cat & mouse chase throughout the book. Instead it's likely the most romance heavy of all the Rain novels.

Rain's popular because of the grit, spy craft and twits - I hope the series slows down on the romance and continues to be what is should be, a spy novel.

Overall it's still a great book and I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys the rain Novels, but I really hope Barry slows down on the romance.

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What happened

This was a really poor storyline compared to other novels in this series. Disappointing read.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-07-2017

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • shelley
  • 28-06-2017

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.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-11-2019

the bad thing about this series?

it’s over! i don’t even know what to do with myself now! i guess check to see if there are any more of his books that i’ve missed, right?! cause otherwise, super sad face!=(((

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wayne
  • 28-06-2017

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Noel Lotz
  • 05-06-2020

I am so hooked on this series.

The author brings his characters to life with his words and his voice. I couldn't stop listening. I don't say that about many titles.

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  • Adam
  • 16-04-2020

Another amazing rain book.

Another great addition to the Rain series. As anyways Barry Eisler did an amazing job on his performance narrating and the story line was great in the typical rain fashion.

Hopefully many more to come

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  • James Dedischew
  • 05-04-2020

Great listening

good story, great plot interior stories, great delivery , great character development. Highly recommend.

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  • Teddy
  • 13-12-2019

Sorry he spent sooooo much time on the sex

I know about sex. I'm much more interested in the rest of the story. As always, I enjoy hearing an author perform their own work. Mr. Eisler has a wonderful voice and i love that his female voices are not just high pitched silly voices (personally I'm fine with no characterization at all). I was a bit amused by his his female Italian accent ...but maybe i don't know what it SHOULD sound like.
Story was terrific. Will continue listening /reading all his books.

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  • TheRainDoctor
  • 05-11-2019

Fantastic story and execution.

An intriguing story of Rains youth, that further develops a character I thought I knew in and out. A very cohesive story that wraps itself up so beautifully at the end, and leaves you with a deeper understanding and love for the character.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mark malark
  • 22-09-2019

Great book

I really enjoyed this series of books, dude is a stud and I always look forward to the next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rob Roy
  • 08-02-2020

Top notch prequel

Barry Eisler can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. - especially when John Rain is involved. Visceral action, tradecraft and philosophy. Peerless in this genre methinks.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-08-2017

Brilliant

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

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  • H. M. Markham
  • 16-07-2017

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.