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.
Alex Treven has sacrificed everything to achieve his sole ambition: making partner in his high-tech law firm. But then the inventor of a technology Alex is banking on is murdered, the patent examiner who reviewed the innovation dies--and Alex himself narrowly escapes an attack in his own home. Off balance, out of ideas, and running out of time, he knows that the one person who can help him is the last person he’d ever ask: his brother.
Ben Treven is a military liaison element, an elite undercover soldier paid to “find, fix, and finish” high-value targets in the United States global war on terror.
Disenchanted with what he sees as America’s culture of denial and decadence, Ben lives his detached life in the shadows because the black ops world is all he really knows--and because other than Alex, whom he hasn’t spoken to since their mother died, his family is long gone.
But blood is thicker than water, and when Ben receives Alex’s frantic call he hurries to San Francisco to help him. Only then does Alex reveal that there’s another player who knows of the technology: Sarah Hosseini, a young Iranian American lawyer whom Alex has long secretly desired--and whom Ben immediately distrusts. As these three struggle to identify the forces attempting to silence them, Ben and Alex are forced to examine the events that drove them apart--even as Sarah’s presence, and her own secret yearnings, deepens the fault line between them.
A full-throttle thriller that is both emotionally and politically charged, Fault Line centers on a conspiracy that has spun out of the shadows and onto the streets of America, a conspiracy that can be stopped by only three people--three people with different worldviews, different grievances, different motives. To survive the forces arrayed against them, they’ll first have to survive one another.
Barry Eisler on Fault Line
Fault Line, my first standalone, introduces military assassin Ben Treven, and my previous six books were a series centering around freelance assassin John Rain. Fault Line includes some pretty explicit sex, and the Rain series has its fair share, too. I think we have enough data now to be confident all these assassin stories with lots of sex in them are not just a coincidence. I get asked often what's behind these recurring elements. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.
I’m not sure exactly what draws me to characters like Rain and Ben. I think it’s that, on the one hand, they’re like you and me. They’re not sociopaths; they’re normal. And yet they’re not normal, because they can do--and live with--acts that would crush a normal psyche. I guess I’m drawn to the idea that a person can transcend--commit the ultimate transgression, in fact--without being punished for it. An ability like that would be an almost god-like kind of power, wouldn’t it? Raskolnikov without the guilt. Ahab without the catastrophe.
And yet these men aren’t free of consequences--there is a “cost of it,” as a Vietnam vet friend who’s taught me a lot puts it. That cost, and the way these men shoulder it, is something else that fascinates me, and that I try to reflect in my books. It's not just Rain grappling with the weight of what he's done; it's how it effects his ability to have a relationship with a woman--even a fellow professional like Delilah. And the wall Ben feels between men like himself and civilians creates a painful barrier between him and Sarah Hosseini--a barrier that will be put under tremendous pressure by their mutual attraction.
Okay, now sex...
There are three general ways to get to know someone’s character: time, stress, and sex. In a novel, you don’t have time, meaning you need an accelerant, and that leaves you with sex or stress. Violence is one of the most stressful experiences we humans can face, which is why violence can be such a powerful tool in stories. But sex is also enormously revealing, which is why the biblical euphemism that Abraham “knew” Sarah is so apt. Also, sex can be an incredibly powerful pivot. Sex changes everything. Remember when John Cusack and Ione Skye finally make love in Say Anything? Cusack then tries to pretend that it doesn’t matter that much, and Lili Taylor says to him something like, “Yes it does! It changes everything. Decades could go by without you seeing each other... and then, when you’re in your sixties, you might bump into each other, and you’ll say, 'Hi, how are you?' and she’ll say, 'Fine, how are you?,' but what you’ll really be thinking is, ‘We had sex!’”
Which is why I had so much of a blast with the buildup to what happens in Fault Line and with its culmination. These are characters caught for a variety of reasons between powerfully conflicting feelings of antagonism and attraction. They know they shouldn’t, they even tell themselves they don’t want to... and yet of course they do. What would happen to two people with feelings like that, pressurized by shared danger, enhanced by distrust, catalyzed by violence? Not going to tell you here... you’ll have to read the book to find out. --Barry Eisler
(Photo © Charles Bush)