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Fault Line: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2010

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Book Description
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)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Eisler fans looking for the return of John Rain won’t find him here, but they won’t be disappointed. Silicon Valley patent lawyer Alex Treven is counting on a big payday when he closes a potential multimillion-dollar deal with the inventor of an encryption program, but his prospects change quickly when the inventor is murdered and Alex is attacked in his home. To uncover the truth of the murder and survive himself, Alex will need to call in the services of a man he never wanted to see again: his estranged brother, Ben, who works for a secret anti-terrorist military organization but agrees to fly from Istanbul to San Francisco to help—and immediately becomes a target. Also involved is another lawyer, an Iranian American woman who also knows about the encryption program and may or not be trustworthy. Rich characterizations and family dynamics blend seamlessly with gripping action scenes. Eisler has himself another winner. --Jeff Ayers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345505093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345505095
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been blessed with a variety of interesting jobs: a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations (now called the National Clandestine Service); attorney in an international law firm; in-house counsel at the Osaka headquarters of Panasonic; executive in a Silicon Valley technology startup.

But the best job by far has been novel writing--political thrillers, as it happens, with a lot of realistic action, exotic locations, and steamy sex. My agency training, my time as a lawyer, my experiences in Japan, and a background in martial arts all inform my writing. I get a lot of my material from actual US government craziness (assassinations, torture, indefinite imprisonment, bulk surveillance...you know, everything needed these days to to Keep Us Safe). As I like to say, what's bad for America is good for thriller writers.

A lot of what I've speculated about turns out to be true: the kill list, or "International Terrorist Threat Matrix," I introduced in 2004 in Winner Take All, for example, came to light in 2012 and 2013 as the "Disposition Matrix," courtesy of the Obama administration. The safety shortcomings of Japanese nuclear reactors I described in 2003 in A Lonely Resurrection were documented following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe. And the pacemaker hack that kicked off my first book--A Clean Kill in Tokyo, in 2002--turns out to have been a real concern of Dick Cheney's, as revealed in his memoirs (it also turned up in the second season of Homeland).

The books have won a bunch of awards and made various "Best of" lists, which is nice. My first book--A Clean Kill in Tokyo, which introduced "natural causes" assassin John Rain--was made into a Japanese language movie called Rain Fall a few years back. The whole Rain series is now being developed for television by Cinemax, with Keanu Reeves starring. Hope to have some updates on that reasonably soon.

If you want to follow what I'm up to beyond the books, Twitter's a good bet--@barryeisler. And then there's Facebook; the mailing list you can find on my website; and my blog, The Heart of the Matter.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Monie Garcia VINE VOICE on December 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Brothers Alex and Ben Treven are as different as two brothers can be. Alex is a brilliant, up and coming lawyer in a Silicon Valley law firm and Ben is a government assassin who hasn't had contact with Alex in over seven years. When an inventor Alex represents is murdered Alex begins to question if the murder has anything to do with the new encryption program his client was working on. Then within hours the patent clerk working on the invention coincidently dies of natural causes and Alex himself is attacked in his home. With no where else to turn he calls upon Ben for help in staying alive.

Ben grudgingly returns home and together with associate lawyer, Sarah Hosseini who was also working the on the case, the three are forced into hiding to try and figure out who would murder to keep the program from ever seeing the light of day.

I really enjoyed this book. It's the perfect combination of action and adventure mixed with technical expertise. Some of the plot was a little predictable but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. I read the entire book in one day because the action kept the pages turning.

I especially liked the character interaction between the two brothers. They each felt the other was at fault for the rift in their family stemming from a tragedy when the boys were in high school. At different times in the book I'd find myself rooting for one brother or the other while hoping for reconciliation. The ending was realistic and not too over the top or too "happily ever after" which annoys me. I highly recommend this book for all suspense/thriller lovers.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By a reader on March 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel is not bad as a departure from the Rain series but it lagged badly when it tried to get overly psychological, which was often. The plot is good and backed up by interesting technical detail regarding software and web security. The older brother is a good start as a tough but flawed action hero. But I got very frustrated with the other brother and his repeated inner battles regarding his feelings for his brother, which seemed to go on and on, over and over throughout the book. Given the realities of the plot (people trying to kill him, asking his brother for help) his petty and childish actions were, to me, a real logic flaw in the book. It eventually seemed so very unlikely for a real person to act that way I started turning pages when the plot got to those places. Overall I'd say the book can't decide if it's a straight-up action thriller or a study of family dysfunction. I think it fails on the latter count and the author should have soft pedaled this aspect or drawn the characters more realistically.
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I read the negative reviews of this book and let me say this, this isn't a John Rain book, get over it. At the same time, it isn't a total departure for Barry either, he still covers all the stuff you love about the Rain books, field craft, combat tactics, and an interesting character arch.

I liked this book most because of the way he talks about and addresses many issues currently facing us today, issues like FISA, Homeland Security, and Cyber Terrorism.

I found the main character to be very believable, maybe because I knew people like him in the military or maybe because I've been exposed to a lot of interesting training. Whatever the case, I found him conflicted, likable, and perfectly developed for the story.

Now, I like many would have liked to see a little more of the detail that you get in the John Rain novels but I think every author has to experiment with style and tone if he is going to be more than a one trick pony.

I got into the book fast and was drawn quickly along and deep into the plot. I had a hard time putting the book down, so hard in fact I agreed to an outing to Chuck E Cheese with my five year old daughter and her friend so that I'd have an hour and a half to read while they played!

If you are an Eisler fan, you'll like this book ... a lot. If you this is your first experience, dive immediately into the Rain novels, you'll love them.

Personally, I can't wait for the next book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Silver on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
OK, so the guy has an incredibly sexy resume: ex-CIA Directorate of Operations, attorney, and movie-star looks to boot. Is that what it takes to get published? I haven't read any of the Rain series, so I only have Fault Line on which to base an opinion. And that opinion is that Eisler writes eminently readable, fast-paced books that you'll forget about as soon as you put the book down. He gets you into the book, but the book doesn't get into you.

First, what I liked: good action sequences and clear, inside knowledge of spycraft, such as how to "case a joint." The main character, Ben Treven, is well-drawn and multi-layered; alas, he's the only one in the book.

The problems lie with the other characters and the general writing style, which alternates between clinical discussions of proper assassination techniques and floridly over-the-top emotional outbreaks. The younger brother, Alex, is a twerp. Any tension between the brothers that we're supposed to feel as readers was greatly diminished for me because of Alex's largely unsympathetic character. Sarah is, at best, two-dimensional. She's along for the ride and gets to participate in a laughably written sex scene that I had to read aloud to my wife, who thought I was making it up. The writer makes more than one reference to "feelings building up inside" Sarah, yet we never learn what those were. There is no "bad guy" per se, and the absence of a villain detracts from the tension. Someone's out to get Alex, and by the time we find out who, some of us might no longer care.
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