Review

Fault Line

by Barry Eisler

What words can I use to describe Barry Eisler’s first
stand-alone thriller, FAULT LINE? Riveting? I couldn’t put it
down. Exciting? There should be a special set of chairs
designed with a couple of extra inches on the seats just for
reading this, so you don’t fall off the edge. Imaginative?
You bet. Deep? For sure. Take two estranged brothers who are very
different, throw them reluctantly together, insert an attractive,
brilliant woman into the mix and have a gang of mysteriously
omnipresent bad guys after them with malevolent intent. Add
Eisler’s award-winning style, and --- dare I say it --- you
just might forget about John Rain. Maybe I shouldn’t go that
far, but his latest novel is one heck of a ride.

FAULT LINE represents some changes for Eisler. Instead of lone
wolf Rain, it introduces a new version of oil and water in the form
of Alex and Ben Treven. Rather than the exotic Asian environs of
the Rain novels, it is set in the more familiar, more laid-back
Northern California region, in Menlo Park and San Francisco. And
while Rain often played out his violent though reluctant actions
against a backdrop of darkness, this book is a bit less
introspective. Think of Eisler as a master illusionist, about to
unleash a stunning new set of presentations, and you’ll get
the idea.

As indicated above, Alex is very different from brother Ben. He
is a button-downed and moussed attorney who is on a fast track for
his law firm’s partnership, in no small part due to his
client, Richard Hilzoy, who has designed a piece of security
software known as Obsidian. Hilzoy has described Obsidian as the
world’s most advanced encryption algorithm; it is going to
make Hilzoy, and Alex, very rich. When Hilzoy is suddenly murdered,
however, Alex finds himself in the crosshairs as well. Alex is
woefully unprepared to deal with this type of situation and does
the one thing that he wishes he did not have to do: he calls Ben
for assistance.

Ben is one of a small group of elite special operatives, the
best of the best. As is demonstrated conclusively near the
beginning of the book, he is geared up for this type of situation.
What he is not trained for, however, is dealing with his brother,
who has been estranged from him for years and is so very different
from him. To make matters more complicated, there is Sarah
Hosseini, an associate of Alex’s law firm and one of the few
people on earth capable of coming close to understanding Obsidian.
Sarah is smart, beautiful and Persian. She and Ben instinctively
distrust each other. Alex secretly has a crush on her. And some
mysterious pursuers are trying to kill all three of them. Before
the story is over, alliances are changed, lives are lost, and
everything and everyone is either moved a bit closer or somewhat
farther apart.

FAULT LINE is so good you’ll be tempted to read it twice
in one sitting. Indulge yourself, especially if you missed
Eisler’s sly and ever-so-brief allusion to John Rain the
first time through. He also gets into the complications that arise
when circumstance, happenstance and coincidence collide and result
in a group of folks we call a family. Eisler is very subtle about
it --- this is a thriller, after all, in every sense of the word
--- but he goes deep into the topic without missing a beat of the
plot. And take notes: there is a sequel coming next year.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Fault Line
by Barry Eisler

  • Publication Date: April 27, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345505093
  • ISBN-13: 9780345505095