Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Review: "The Night Trade" by Barry Eisler

"Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster."

After introducing Seattle sex crimes detective Livia Lone in a sizzling, eponymous novel last year, Barry Eisler drops her into another sensational story of revenge and trying to put your demons to rest.

For most of her life, Livia has been haunted by the events of her childhood and teenage years, when she and her younger sister Nason were sold by their parents and forcibly taken to America, and horribly abused both by the men who trafficked them and then others. What they endured was beyond anything imaginable, and those incidents are what led Livia to pursue a career in law enforcement, particularly sex crimes, so she can right some of the wrongs she and Nason experienced.

When she is offered a position on a government task force combating sex trafficking in Thailand, she jumps at the chance to return home and exact revenge on the men who took her and her sister from the only life they had known. The government is trying to hunt down Rithisak Sorm, a notorious criminal kingpin and trafficker, whom Livia has learned was behind her own ordeal as well. It is an opportunity that seems almost too good to be true for her.

Returning to Thailand proves to be emotionally challenging, but she focuses on the overall objective of the mission. One night, when she has tracked Sorm to an exclusive nightclub in a Thai resort town, she discovers she's not the only one hunting Sorm. In the midst of a gunfight that goes spectacularly awry, Livia meets Dox, a former Marine sniper and mercenary-for-hire, who is consulting with U.S. intelligence to take Sorm down.

While the last thing Livia wants is a connection of any kind, she starts to realize that perhaps two hunters are better than one. And as reluctant as she is to open up to anyone, Dox's simple kindness and empathy helps her make him understand just how important meting out her own form of justice for Sorm truly is for her. He doesn't question her motives or her intent—he too understands that sometimes the only resort you have is killing someone.

But the deeper Livia and Dox dig into tracking Sorm down again, the more they realize they are up against forces more nefarious than they could have imagined. It seems that Sorm is a key component of a massive conspiracy which involves branches of U.S. intelligence, and not only do they want to keep Sorm alive, but they're willing to protect him no matter what the cost—and no matter how many people need to be harmed in the process.

The Night Trade is an action-packed yet emotional thrill ride by one of the best crime and thriller writers out there. Eisler's John Rain novels are among some of my absolute favorites, and now with two Livia Lone books under his belt, he proves he can write thrillers with equally kick-ass women as well. It was so terrific to see Dox (a character from the Rain novels) and Livia team up, so I hope a John Rain/Livia Lone pairing won't be far behind!

Livia is an absolutely electrifying protagonist, and while you worry that her demons may lead her too far down a path of retribution, the fine line she walks is so poignant and compelling. She reminds me a bit of Lisbeth Salander, in that they're equally badass and sadly, equally damaged, but still vulnerable.

Eisler's John Rain series is absolutely amazing, and so are his Livia Lone books. But there's a downside to his prolificness: the more he writes, the more impatient I get when I finish his latest book. Don't let these books, or these characters, pass you by!

NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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