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FAULT LINE by Barry Eisler


by Barry Eisler

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-50508-8
Publisher: Ballantine

Vanilla thriller about a race to nab software capable of shutting down cyberspace.

On the heels of six John Rain thrillers, Eisler (Requiem for an Assassin, 2007, etc.) turns to a stand alone with a fadeout that suggests it won’t be standing alone for long. The author brings on a familiar cast, with each character raising a question that nudges along the plot. There’s Richard Hilzoy, about to patent Oracle, “to security software what Dolby was to sound.” But Hilzoy withholds from his buyers something vital about the software. Perhaps that’s the reason someone rubs him out. Then there’s Alex Treven, the bland, blonde, blue-eyed lawyer who hopes landing Oracle will make him a partner at his firm. More flamboyant is Alex’s brother, Ben, at the start a hired assassin about to kill two Iranians in Turkey. In awkward flashbacks, Eisler details the family trauma behind Alex and Ben’s estrangement. Asked to drive his sister Katie, a high-school senior, home from a party, Ben, besotted with a woman at the fete, asks someone else to do the honors. The substitute driver crashes, killing Katie. Ben shirks responsibility, turning, somewhat implausibly, into a cold, ruthless killer. Will he melt and reconcile with his brother? The chance to do that comes when Alex seeks his help after it appears someone is ready to kill anyone with anything to do with Oracle. Ben grudgingly agrees to help, though he distrusts Alex’s assistant, Sarah Hosseini, largely because she’s Iranian. For her part, Sarah has never experienced an orgasm. Will she and Ben combust? Eisler ticks off answers to his questions. He reveals the tricky and surprising story behind Oracle. He turns Ben and Alex’s rehash of the past into several second-drawer Arthur Miller confrontations. And he signs off as Ben and Sarah heat up. As for color in the telling, clichés abound: “destiny was like a freight train”; “He was a needle in a haystack, a drop in the ocean.”

Sure to set the pulse steadying.