Review: The Night Trade (A Livia Lone Novel Book 2) by Barry Eisler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Immediately after finishing 2016's Livia Lone, I immediately wanted, no, needed, more of this character. Thankfully, Livia is back for a second round, and The Night Trade proves to be just as rich and compulsively readable as Lone's debut. And much like the first entry, I'm immediately left wanting more.

Picking up a few months after the prior novel's finale, Livia is offered a spot on an anti-trafficking taskforce. She uses this position to ferret out leads on the men who abducted her, and her sister, Nason, as children for use in sex trafficking. Armed with the names of these men, she returns to Thailand, intent on dismantling the trafficking ring responsible for her and Nason's abuse.

Operating his own leads in Thailand is Dox, short for unorthodox, which speaks to his methods as an operator, and a recurring fan-favorite in Eisler's long-running John Rain series. Dox is on the hunt for Rithisak Sorm, a former Khmer Rouge soldier renowned for his torture tactics of sexual abuse, as well as human trafficking.

Needless to say, Dox's and Livia's parallel investigations eventually converge, and while sparks fly the relationship that emerges between these two killers is remarkably tender and fascinating. Dox and Livia are polar opposites, and their differences highlight their commonalities, while also giving us some fresh insight into Livia's nature. Through Dox's point of view, we get to see certain facets of Livia that we've been previously denied, and her characterization grows all the deeper because of it. She's a tough, no-holds-barred, tragically flawed heroine, but we get a better sense of just how fragile she is through her interactions with the boisterous, loud-mouthed Texan. Eisler does a wonderful job bringing them together, and opening up Livia's world a bit more with the angles of international intrigue and governmental subterfuge that have been the hallmarks of his John Rain series.

In only two novels, Livia Lone has become my favorite character in the entirety of Eisler's body of work, and, mind you, he has created some fantastic characters. So much of her is broken, some hastily glued back together, and she never stops fighting, against either her own personal inner demons and the demons that would seek to shatter and destroy others like her. She's a remarkable vigilante, and I'm eager to see what other aspects of her character Eisler is able to uncover for us in future novels.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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