There’s such an array of good guys – and gals – in Barry Eisler’s The Killer Collective, that the group resembles a gathering of Marvel heroes. While no one flies, throws a shield, or swings a mjolnir, they do possess super powers on a human scale. In this latest outing, even the U.S. Secret Service is no match for their skills.
I confess this is the first Eisler thriller I have read (I know – where have I been?), but even without all of the characters’ back stories, this latest in the series is an engaging read. The story is told from the point of view of four people, three of them fighting evil – John Rain, a Japanese American who was once in Special Forces, Livia Lone, a Seattle sex crimes detective, and Dox, a Marine sniper and Rain’s best friend – and one, a bad guy, Oliver Graham, a former Navy Seal and founder and CEO of OGE, which does billions in contract work for the Pentagon, CIA, and is apparently protecting a child pornography ring that reaches into the highest echelons of government.
Livia is the driving force behind this initiative, uncovering the pornographic website, Child’s Play, but running into opposition when she attempts to dig deeper. When she becomes the target of a hit, she knows that she will need back up. She reaches out to Dox, aka, Carl, a former lover, and he brings in the rest of the team. Besides Rain, they include two black-ops soldiers, Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, and their former commander, Special Ops Colonel Scott “Hort” Horton. Also on the team is Rain’s former lover, Delilah, a Mossad agent who is not afraid to use her charms to trap unwitting suspects. That’s exactly what she does with Graham.
Because the narrators change frequently, keeping track of the plot becomes, at times, a challenge, but once the action picks up, it’s easy to read at a breakneck pace and burn the midnight oil. Eisler, a former CIA operative himself, knows how to craft an intriguing plot, but he also creates fascinating characters that feel real without becoming clichés. There’s a history among the members of these talented team and their interactions are, at times, humorous, and at others, quite touching. And the plot could be “ripped from the headlines.” What does it take to take down powerful people at the highest levels of government? A group like Eisler has put together. In other words, I’m hooked.
The Killer Collective
Top photo: Bigstock
Barry Eisler’s photo, credit Naomi Brookner