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The Killer Collective Paperback – February 1, 2019
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An Amazon Charts, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
A fast-paced, page-turning novel of betrayal, vengeance, and depraved secrets in high places from the New York Times bestselling author of the John Rain and Livia Lone series.
When a joint FBI–Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone 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. There’s Rain. Rain’s estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah. And black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, along with their former commander, SpecOps legend Colonel Scot “Hort” Horton.
Moving from Japan to Seattle to DC to Paris, the group fights a series of interlocking conspiracies, each edging closer and closer to the highest levels of the US government.
With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smoldering romantic entanglements, these operators will have a hard time forming a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be even better.
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“Impossibly cool.” —Entertainment Weekly
“As usual with an Eisler novel, the plot is full of twists, the prose is muscular, and the action unfolds at a torrid pace. The result is another page-turner from one of the better thriller writers since James Grady published Six Days of the Condor in 1974.” —Associated Press
“In this crackling-good thriller from bestseller Eisler, Seattle PD sex crimes detective Livia Lone, assassin John Rain, and former Marine sniper Dox form a testy alliance to combat a vile conspiracy involving corrupt and toxic government agencies…The feisty interplay among these killer elites is as irresistible as if one combined the Justice League with the Avengers, swapping out the superhero uniforms for cutting-edge weaponry and scintillating spycraft. By the satisfying conclusion, the world has been scrubbed a bit cleaner of perfidy. This is delightfully brutal fun.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vicarious pleasure for anyone wanting to see the scum of the world get its due.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Eisler does a great job of creating individual personalities and tics with this group of uniquely trained professionals. A solid recommendation for fans of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon.” —Library Journal
“Riveting…Barry Eisler pulls off an Avengers-like feat…” —The Mercury News
“Eisler turns the heat up like never before to deliver a fun, fast-paced thriller that’s tailor-made for fans of nonstop action.” —The Real Book Spy
“The fun of Eisler’s super thriller is in the excitement, the chase, and the survival. The Killer Collective binds it together into a blazing adventure of espionage escape fiction, perfect to start the new year.” —New York Journal of Books
“Eisler’s The Killer Collective packs a punch like a sniper’s rifle. A solid grounding in up-to-the-minute technology and current affairs makes this a hot read for thriller lovers.” —Authorlink
“A heart-pounding home run…Eisler has created a more literary version of The Expendables—the movie series that brought together Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and other action heroes…” —It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria
“Demonstrating the extraordinary expertise in the art of espionage and special operations—including surveillance detection, cover, elicitation, operational site selection, and more—that his fans and fellow practitioners have come to venerate, Eisler delivers another brilliant, fast-paced thriller, full of well-developed characters who remind me of the special operations and intelligence officers with whom I served and in some cases against whom I worked. For a retired senior CIA Clandestine Services officer still nostalgic for his espionage operations of bygone years, Eisler’s thrillers full of intrigue, adventure, and suspense are a most welcome opportunity to get as close as is now possible to the real thing.” —Daniel N. Hoffman, retired Clandestine Services officer and former CIA Chief of Station
About the Author
Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and start-up executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan Judo Institute along the way. Eisler’s award-winning thrillers have been included in numerous “Best Of” lists, have been translated into nearly twenty languages, and include the #1 bestsellers The Detachment and Livia Lone. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he’s not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law. www.barryeisler.com.
- Publisher : Thomas & Mercer (February 1, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 415 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1503900959
- ISBN-13 : 978-1503900950
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #19,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Heinous would be an accurate way to describe the crime in this story. When you find out who actually perpetuates the crime, it’s doubly disgusting. The professionals solving this case are all well seasoned and an eclectic bunch of characters that make the reading very interesting. There’s not a TV personality in the bunch!
Barry Eisler has taken on the topic of child pornography and has done so without gratuitous or graphic explanations. Kudos to him for taking the high road. The language is rough but not excessively so, there are some sexual encounters but again, no descriptive passages and that holds true for the violence as well. While this story deals with the vilest of human offenders, the pursuit of their apprehension is good, no holds barred, police work that crosses all law enforcement alphabets with “The Killer Collective”
Kudos ONCE AGAIN to Barry Eisler for writing one of the finest novels to start out this new year! Buy it, read it, buy it for a friend, buy it for an enemy, rinse/repeat. It's great writing, period.
Eiseler is more complicated and requires attention be paid to the story. That is both more interesting and more complicated.
The story depends on and develops characters, by far, always my favorite.
“That was the dirty little secret of 9/11. Not the conspiracy theories about advance knowledge and controlled demolition and inside jobs. The real secret was that there were also winners. After all, half of marriages ended in divorce.”
Seem okay? It is. But here is the passage as it appears in the book:
“That was the dirty little secret of 9/11, he thought. Not the conspiracy theories—the accusations about advance knowledge and controlled demolition and inside jobs. The real secret was that within the overall loss, there were also winners. After all, it was just a matter of statistics that half of marriages ended in divorce.”
We don’t need to be advised that “he thought”; it’s already been established whose perspective we’re getting. Conspiracy theories are accusations. “Within the overall loss” communicates nothing to anyone who has heard of 9/11. Once you assert a statistic, you know that it’s a statistic.
No one's heart ever simply beats faster in the face of danger. There is also an "adrenaline kick," as if people are thinking of the biochemistry at the time. Eisler is also guilty of synonym-itis, stacking near-synonyms as if wary of committing himself definitely, e.g., to either "sublimating" or "suppressing," "stance" or "posture" ("something in her stance, her posture...").
Idiomatic expressions are sometimes supplanted with no compensating benefit. People don't "get used to" foul language during training exercises; they get "habituated" to it. Emotion doesn't cloud judgment, it "occludes insight." And why is a mugger "transitioning" to shears instead of "switching" or "changing" to them? The author will even use a word and then define it. "Surreal" means having a fantastic dreamlike quality. But that doesn't stop Eisler from saying that a situation "felt surreal, like something she'd dreamed more than something that had actually happened."
Nitpicking? Yes. All copy-editing is nitpicking, and any particular objection may be arguable. But little bits of flab here and there, continuously, add up. Eisler seems to express himself most economically during scenes of violence, which are one of the many things that he does very effectively.
Top reviews from other countries
The storyline involves a coverup by the Secret Service of a child pornography ring within the American government etc. Certain people who have knowledge of this are one by one disposed of. A group of individuals task themselves with saving their own lives and getting to the bottom of the pornography conspiracy.
The characters are shallow. Most are ‘zap, crack, punch, shoot’ supermen. Totally silly and the underlying love issues are unrealistic.
The intelligent writing of this book lifts it from 1 star.
Now to the story, I agree with other reviewer which mentioned it was ‘boys own’ stuff. It just gets a bit boring. Might be a good read for someone who wants a shoot em up book but I struggled. Handily got it with my kindle unlimited subscription but would have felt upset if I had paid.
Couple this issue with the fact that this is the first Eisler book I've read, and it reads like I've walked into a story mid way through, and you get the resultant feeling that you're listening to character interactions that have been established over time, and I'm left feeling somewhat meh about the book.
The story itself is perfectly workable. A Seattle sex crimes detective (with a past that's hinted at so much that you're left feeling like you're missing something) is working on a huge case with a computer tech and his FBI boss when they are mysteriously pulled off the case. Almost immediately, there are attempts on all three of their lives, leaving one of them alive, so she gets in contact with a friend who works in "ethically grey" areas, to help solve the case, which, of course, the do.
As I said, the book itself is fine. It's very readable in many ways. It's just this isn't the first book in any series written by the author, so I got the sense there were undercurrents, and missed jokes that I honestly feel I'm missing, because I started in the wrong place in the series.
As a kid, I was told a joke about an Irish pedestrian being asked where something was, and how to get there, by a motorist. To this he replies that if he was going there, he "wouldn't start from here."
The joke is, of course, that the motorist has to start from here, but you don't have to. No one is making you start from here, so I would go to something earlier in the series, and start there, before coming to this book. You'll probably enjoy it more.
Packing the story with so many characters runs the risk of a lack of focus, with too many plot strands competing for attention, self-indulgence as every character has to get his or her moment in the sun and awkward plotting to engineer the team-up. However, Eisler manages to sidestep all of these potential pitfalls. Whilst the plot’s set-up isn’t the strongest or most innovative (I wish thriller authors would stop using private military contractors as generic ‘go-to-bad-guys; its tired and formulaic) it provides logical reasons to bring Lone, Rain, Dox, Larison and Horton into each other’s orbits. Eisler also brings them all together quickly and efficiently, so that the narrative isn’t bogged down following two parallel but related plot lines for too long. He’s also happy to bring his strongest players to the fore, with Rain, Dox and Livia given more focus than the less compelling Larison and Horton. No-one has their part boosted unnecessarily.
As a result, the opening two thirds of the book work well. Despite the central plot driver not being the strongest, Eisler gets things moving, throwing in the usual, excellent action along the way and propelling events forward at a very rapid pace. Nothing feels forced. Characters come together for reasons that are perfectly justifiable within the confines of the world Eisler has created. Events unfold in a mostly plausible manner (although a helicopter attack does strain the edges of credibility). Individuals behave in ways that feel appropriate to their established characters. Both dialogue and exposition remain punchy and pared down.
The only duff-note in this opening two thirds is the slightly awkward shoe-horning of Ben Treven into the narrative. Not only does his involvement smack of contrived coincidence, but his presence also seems to add little to events. He was never enough of a compelling character to deserve an extended cameo; especially one that doesn’t really fit with the measured and deliberate plotting up until that point. Its only with a single incident later that you understand why Eisler brought him into the story, but even that specific event feels overly contrived and does not mitigate the awkward way he’s inserted into a smooth flowing story.
Unfortunately, by the time the reason for Treven’s presence becomes clear, the novel as a whole has taken a definite downward turn. As the action shifts to Paris, and Eisler brings Delilah back into the mix, what was a focused, streamlined thriller despite the extensive cast becomes bogged down with unnecessary travelogue and extraneous romantic entanglements and is then hamstrung by a plot that crosses the line into implausibility before just petering out.
Having managed to carefully calibrate the prominence given to each individual character for the first two thirds of the book, Eisler inexplicably decides to use this ensemble piece as the forum to resolve Rain and Delilah’s relationship issues. Not only isn’t this a particularly interesting sub-plot; doing so also drags focus away from the central narrative, slowing everything down. To make matters worse, having added avoidable bloat to what was otherwise a focused, propulsive story he resolves the warring lovers’ issues in a way that feels rushed and entirely anti-climatic.
Of course, this unwanted distraction from the central plot could have been more easily forgiven if Eisler recovered to build to a satisfying grand finale for the novel but he doesn’t. Instead we’re offered a build-up that lacks any genuine twists or turns to generate dramatic tension, a single event that is seems deliberately and solely intended to leave a question mark hanging over every character’s ultimate fate but again feels too contrived and calculated to have that effect, an action sequence that doesn’t feel in the slightest bit plausible in a Parisian setting and then a wrap up that is perfunctory at best.
The end result is that the Collective feels like a missed opportunity. Up until the moment Rain, Lone, Dox, Larison and Horton leave the USA it is a first-class thriller and a genuinely satisfying way to tie all Eisler’s various books together (even God’s Eye View get’s a brief mention in passing). It lacks a really satisfying antagonist and the inclusion of Ben Treven is unnecessary, but these are minor quibbles. Then it hits Paris and loses its way, undoing much of the earlier good work with some questionable plot decisions and too much padding before failing to stick the big landing at the end.
I tend not to read about male assassins, but Livia is a Seattle police officer. Odd, then, that once Livia survives an attempt on her life, she takes up with male assassins. I found it a very forced join between the series. However, there are big action scenes like a hit team and a helicopter turning up to a house in the woods, a sniper across the Seattle city river to be located, a minutely choreographed few sequences in Parisian streets and more guns than you could imagine, given you can't fly with guns. Once the action starts it is very well written.
Many deaths, some quite obnoxious. Strong language, and some adult activity. Sadly, no great conversation, and apart from one protagonist speaking in first person and the others telling their stories in turn in third person (I lost count how many) I found it hard to tell the men apart. They all just sounded American gung ho to me. This is why you need to keep the hacker alive. For some intelligent conversation, which doesn't venerate guns.
Given the above I will still give the book four stars, because I like Livia and the action was a good read. Also, the warning that giant firms are profiting hugely from Middle Eastern wars, and thus have nothing to gain by stability returning to the region, as remarked by journalist Antony Loewenstein among others, is well worth putting in fiction print.
Thanks to Fresh Fiction for supplying my ARC. This is an unbiased review.