Book Review: Fault Line by Barry Eisler

Tuesday, May 03, 2011
I'd never read anything by Barry Eisler before "Fault Line." Over the past several years I've mostly read cozies since that was the kind of mystery I was trying to write. However, when he announced that he was turning down a $500,000 book contract to self-publish, I knew I just had to read something by him.

Now, there have been other well-known writers who have recently decided to go the self-publishing route. Famously, there is J.A. Konrath. Joe Konrath, deservedly known as the king of promotion, decided to self-publish his Jack Daniels mysteries at least a year ago. I've never cared for these and, to be honest, believed the rumors that said he made the decision because he wasn't offered a new contract with a traditional publisher. Joe vehemently denies this rumor. Norman Spinrad is another well-known author who announced he was going the epub route last year because he was a victim of the publishing death spiral. But I don't think either of them turned down the kind of money Barry Eisler did. In fact, I'm ninety-nine percent sure of that.

I was not disappointed by this book. That's an understatement. This was a well-crafted thriller and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. (There was one violent scene that was not my cup of tea, but it was not so violent that it made me ill.)

Alex Treven is an up-and-coming lawyer in a high tech patent law firm. When Richard Hilzoy, inventor of the encryption software called Obsidian, becomes his client, Alex is certain this will be his breakthrough to partner. Then Hilzoy is murdered and the thrill ride begins.

Fearing for his life, Alex contacts his estranged brother Ben, an operative who considers killing all in a day's work. Ben is tempted to ignore the message, but can't resist bailing his little brother out of trouble one more time. Throw in Sarah, an Iranian lawyer who is the love interest for both brothers, and you've got all the elements for an excellent read.

Most of all, the software aspect did not make me want to throw this book across the room. I can't tell you how many books have made me feel that way because of the unreality of the technology. Eisler tells us just enough about Obsidian to make it believable, but not so much that we're bored with the technology or laughing because it's so unbelievable.

I've already added the sequel, "Inside Out", to my wishlist.

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