Tuesday, May 19, 2009

REVIEW: Fault Line by Barry Eisler

Being a fan of Barry Eisler’s Rain books, I was glad for the opportunity to review his latest release, Fault Line. I read with high expectations—and I was definitely not disappointed.


Silicon Valley: the eccentric inventor of a new encryption application is murdered in an apparent drug deal. Istanbul: a cynical undercover operative receives a frantic call from his estranged brother, a patent lawyer who believes he’ll be the next victim. And on the sun-drenched slopes of Sand Hill Road, California’s nerve center of money and technology, old family hurts sting anew as two brothers who share nothing but blood and bitterness wage a desperate battle against a faceless enemy.


When it comes to political thrillers, readers expect action, intrigue, and really cool gadgets. Many authors provide these things and little else – but not Eisler, who goes above and beyond with Fault Line. There is, of course, an engaging plot with plenty of twists and turns. The story touches on the events of 9/11 without relying on them or being overly political or preachy, but the main thrust centers on America’s current relations – both abroad, particularly with the Middle East, and within our own borders. Though a complicated emerging technology lies at the center of the fast-paced plot, Eisler handles the explanations of its applications – and dangers – so deftly that any layperson can follow the story.

The real strengths of Fault Line, however, lie in its characters. Brothers Alex and Ben Treven couldn’t be more different. Alex is a hard-working homebody, intelligent but naïve, and practically oblivious to the mild condescension his sharp mind creates in him. Jaded and cynical Ben, on the other hand, has stayed as far from home as possible. He trusts no one – with good reason, as it turns out. A family tragedy tore the brothers apart years ago, and they haven’t so much as spoken to each other until Alex’s call for help.

Each of the brothers represents an extreme – both in their temperaments and their worldview. Alex is uncertain, lacking in confidence and far too trusting of the world he’s presented. Ben is confident but hard, and unable to believe in anything except himself. Their character arcs throughout the story are believable, powerful and satisfying, and even brought me to tears a few times.

Fault Line is an excellent story of politics and technology, of action versus inaction, and most importantly, of human relationships and bonds. Even readers who are not fans of political thrillers will thoroughly enjoy this book. Thank you, Mr. Eisler, for a truly compelling, well-rounded and enjoyable read.


Fault Line by Barry Eisler. Available at all major booksellers and online in Kindle format from Amazon.


Sheila Deeth said...

I've not read any of his books, but I think I'll look out for them now. Thanks.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Nicely done, SW! Super review for what sounds like an intriguing read. Thank you! I'll have to check this one out!

Kim Smith said...

Recently picked up the first in the Rain series and just fell out after the first few pages, thinking what a phenomenal author Barry is. I will definitely get this one.

Anonymous said...

Nice conflict between the brothers. Hopefully, they get reconciled while solving the murder and taking out the bad guys.

Or, you could keep the conflict moving into the next book. Keep the reader hanging on a clff wondering if the bothers are going to get it together or remain hostle yet working together.