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Review: Barry Eisler’s The Killer Collective

Review: Barry Eisler’s The Killer Collective

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Editorial Note – I was given a copy of Barry Eisler’s The Killer Collective in return for a review.

The Killer Collective by Barry Eisler is a fast-paced thriller full of political intrigue and nonstop action.

Barry Eisler is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 thrillers. His series features characters such as sex-crime detective Lisa Lone, freelance assassin John Rain and black-ops solider Ben Treven. These characters have come together in The Killer Collective. This is the first novel I’ve read from him and he provides plenty of context about each of the characters so it serves well as a standalone.

The story follows Seattle sex-crimes detective Livia Lone as she investigates an international child pornography ring. When it gets too close to certain powerful people, she becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry—a hit that had been offered to John Rain, a retired specialist in “natural causes.”

Suspecting the FBI itself was behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former Marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc group to identify and neutralize the threat. The group includes Rain; his estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah; black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, along with their former commander, SpecOps legend Colonel Scot “Hort” Horton.

Airport thriller

The idea behind airport thrillers is to provide long stories with plenty of adventure and action. Think about reading on the plane for a second. It’s one of the most noisy places to read! So there’s an urgency to these kinds of reads—fast-paced is the key.

This is the first airport thriller I’ve read and what’s funny is that I actually did read this on a recent flight and it definitely kept my interest the entire time. It’s a globe-trotting adventure taking the reader to Japan to Seattle to DC to Paris. It reminded me in some ways of those recent Mission Impossible movies with the nonstop action.

Still, though, this one very much focuses on pressing social and political issues, including child sex trafficking and other crimes against humanity. The crimes conducted in this read are truly heinous and hard to read at times. It makes you really root for the “anti-heroic” protagonists trying to take the criminals down.

The action scenes are quite descriptive and the author does provide an almost ‘behind the scenes’ look at tactics that are used. To me, the strongest parts are the interactions between this unique group. They’re all quite different but each have strengths that are required for this mission. Livia is the most complex as she’s not only a cop, but also a refugee, a victim and a survivor.

Author’s background

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, he said that “if you’re writing political thrillers without taking Big Brother into account, you’re probably missing a degree of realism.” So, he’s quite focused on featuring state-of-the-art technology in his book.

For those who enjoy books about spies, political intrigue with plenty of stamped passports, this is a good pick for you.