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THE DETACHMENT by Barry Eisler


by Barry Eisler

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-6121-8155-4
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Thriller specialist Eisler (Inside Out, 2010, etc.) combines characters from his two regular series in a muddled but mostly exciting tale of assassination and government conspiracy.

Globetrotting assassin John Rain has starred in several Eisler novels, and here he’s reluctantly united with Ben Treven and the mysterious Larison. Treven, Larison, Rain and Rain’s frequent associate Dox are all recruited by the diabolical Col. Scott “Hort” Horton for a covert mission of alleged utmost importance to national security, targeting and taking out high-level U.S. government officials supposedly linked to an impending coup. Naturally, things are not what they seem, and the four fiercely independent operatives soon find themselves on the run, forced to team up and trust each other while figuring out the truth behind Hort’s motives. The combination of worlds has Eisler awkwardly alternating between first- and third-person narration, as the story switches from Rain’s perspective to explore the other characters. The need to serve four separate protagonists also minimizes the chance to focus on personal details, and the love interests and family members who’ve appeared in previous novels are absent here. In their place is a lean and efficient story of violence and betrayal, and Eisler’s attention to detail gives the proceedings an air of authenticity. The author is also increasingly interested in pushing a political agenda, foregrounding his ideas about government abuses of power and widespread corruption. The conspiracy theories (bolstered by numerous citations from various online sources, listed in an appendix) sometimes threaten to undermine and overwhelm the story, even though they mostly come off as convincing within the world that Eisler has created.

The fast-paced, often-breathless suspense makes up for most of the shortcomings, and readers will be eager for more adventures from this quartet of deadly enforcers.