Red Rain – Tim Wendel


Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: The Writer’s Lair Books (September 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0975440217
ISBN-13: 978-0975440216
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Yoshi – A Young Japanese woman
Neil Starling – Sailor and Forest Fire fighter
Leo Webb – Member of Fire Fighting Group


This novel takes place during WW2 after our win over Germany. We are still fighting the forces of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese have developed a new form of weapon. If successful, it could be very devastating to the U.S. and boost Japanese morale. This weapon is known as a fire balloon. This was a hydrogen balloon with various bombs. Some were 26 pound incendiaries (fire bombs) and four 11 lb incendiary devices attached. The balloons were ineffective, and the Japanese dropped their plans, but only because the government was able to keep the full damage reports quiet. In a course of about one year, Japan launched over 9000 of these balloons. About 300 landed, 6 people were killed. One balloon made it as far as Detroit, Michigan.


This story is about Yoshi, Neil Starling, and Leo Webb. Yoshi’s family has been confined to the Manzanar Internment Camp. Neil Starling as part of a special government project contacts her about helping the government. He promises to help her family out, and they need her to go into Japan, and find out what is going on with the fire bombs and gather all the intelligence she can.

In Japan, Yoshi gets involved with the main scientist behind the fire balloons. She must take on a Mata Hari type job, getting information from him, passing it on, while keeping herself from being discovered. She has some support from others in Japan, mostly a kindly old woman who shows up when Yoshi needs help most.

While Yoshi is busy in Japan, Neil Starling is busy commanding a force of firefighters in Payson, Arizona. Their job is to fight all these mysterious fires that are breaking out in the forests. Leo Webb is one of the young members of this group of firefighters.


I enjoyed this story. It was pretty fast paced. The writing style and language would be suitable for anyone over 13 I think. It uncovers a little known event during WW2. The characters seemed real, and their emotions were real. Yoshi is forced to behave in ways that go against character, but is driven out of love for her country to gather all the information she can. That is probably one of the sadder aspects of this time period. Many Japanese were willing, able, and allowed to fight for their new country, while their families were held prisoner in camps.

It gives a pretty good look at what some of the internment camp was like, as well as how some people were not as opposed to Japanese Americans as others were.

If I have one problem with this book, it’s that some relationships seemed forced. It seems they didn’t develop until later chapters, then suddenly “boom”, without me feeling any connection between the characters. I’d like to have seen more time spent on developing these relationships, as it is they seem to come across as an afterthought.

If you want a good look at a time period that doesn’t always get a lot of attention, then pick this book up. I think you’d like it.

About the Author:

Tim Wendel is the author of eight books, including the recent release HIGH HEAT: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FASTBALL AND THE IMPROBABLE SEARCH FOR THE FASTEST PITCHER OF ALL TIME (Da Capo Press).

His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, Washingtonian, National Geographic Traveler, The Potomac Review, Gargoyle, GQ and Esquire.   His columns appear on the USA Today op-ed page, where he is on the Board of Contributors.

He lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife and their two children.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Shana at The Writer’s Lair Books  for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review.

See our interview here be sure and leave a question for Tim and that will register you to win a signed copy of Red Rain.

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