Book Review: “Fault Line” by Barry Eisler


Rating:  4 WaterTowers

“Fault Line” is due in stores in March 2009.  I recieved this ARC from Barry Eisler and I thank him for sending it.  🙂

Richard Hilzoy was at the top of the world.  

He was about to meet with his lawyer, Alex Treven, and several VC’s (Venture Capitalists) to discuss how they could work together to bring his encryption algorithm, Obsidian, to commercial fruition.  Hilzoy knew Obsidian could change the world and he could become rich…..and famous. 

The bullet in his head ruined his day.

Death, from apparent natural causes, also ruined a perfectly good day for the Patent and Trademark examiner working on the Obsidian patent in Washington, D.C.

Shortly thereafter, Alex discovers that all the electronic copies of Obsidian in the law firm have been erased and he narrowly escapes an attack.  He now understands that he is a target and that the next time…..his attackers won’t fail. 

Meanwhile, Ben Treven (Alex’s estranged brother) is in Istanbul assassinating two Iranian nuclear scientists (and, collaterally, a Russian FSB agent).  Ben is part of an elite, secret, U.S. Gov’t group in charge of eliminating threats to U.S. security.  

Ben is one tough dude, and very good at what he does.

Even though they have not talked in many years (Alex blames Ben for his sisters death many years before), Alex calls Ben to ask for his help.  Somewhat reluctantly, Ben travels to the Bay Area to help.  

Once here (I live in the Bay Area) he quickly assesses the situation and takes charge of Alex and his assistant, Sarah Hosseini’s, safety while they all try to unravel the mystery of Obsidian.  Luckily, Alex has the last remaining electronic copy of the executable on his laptop.  They need to keep this safe.

The action and intrigue increase as Ben takes out two Russian’s ready to intercept Alex in the parking garage and is attacked at the Treven family home (where Alex still lives).  

As Alex, Sarah, and Ben dig deeper, they uncover disturbing information about Obsidian and how it can be used.  They also discover that the lines between right and wrong and good and bad are blurring.  

Who is behind the attacks?  The Chinese?  The Russians? The U.S.?  What do they want with Obsidian?  How can it be used?   Who lives and who dies?  Are people close to Ben, Alex and or Sarah involved?  Is Obsidian released on an unprepared world?  

You will have to read the book to find out.  

“Fault Line” is a terrific, fast read, with action and intrigue galore.  The technical aspects of Obsidian are fascinating (hey…I’m a techie) and Ben, Alex, and Sarah are totally believable–albeit 90 degree out of phase–individuals.  Ben is  street smart tough, Alex is the nerdly academic, Sarah the idealist.   A complementary team. 

One of my favorite parts of the book is the inside information on page 112 (at least in the ARC version) related to killing someone so it looks like a natural death.  

“Supposedly there was a guy once, Japanese of half or something like that, who could reliably bring it off, but, I think he’s a myth.”

That somebody is John Rain.  Very cool.  🙂

Barry Eisler has rocked the Thriller world with this terrific stand alone novel.


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