Fault Line

Fault Line

by Barry Eisler

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Fault Line by Barry Eisler.

Once again I’ve been dragged out of my comfort zone, and once again I’m sort of glad. You know what makes me pick up a book &#151′ a science fiction or fantasy component, a strong female lead, historical fiction set in the Middle Ages, I have an inexplicable fascination with the Black Plague — I guess Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book is the most perfect book ever written by those standards. (I’ll wait while you order it. Go ahead, I’ll be right here.)

“But,” said his publicist: “Barry Eisler will be right here in DC, you can talk to him in the studio, and he’s a big time famous smart guy, and he’s a famous author, AND he looks like a movie starÉ” — oh, alright, give me the book already. So that’s how I read Fault Line.

Now, what we’ve got here is a Man Book, no question. Shiny cover, big letters. But what was such fun about Fault Line is the way Eisler cheerfully ignores the clichés of the form — in fact, it’s domestic drama that powers the story, not the high-tech gadgetry, exotic locales or explosions, although those who dig that sort of thing won’t feel left out.

The hero is Ben — a government Êassassin, a hard-core killer, who can’t turn a deaf ear when his estranged brother (a lawyer, natch) needs his help. That they spend the majority of the book squabbling like two kids in the back seat of the station wagon was sort of hysterical, as was Ben’s increasing frustration at his somewhat candyass brother’s simple inability to avoid being kidnapped/shot at/beaten up/robbed, etc. Dude, just do what the hired killer tells you!

The requisite mystery babe who comes between them is a hard working, level-headed woman of Iranian descent who serves as much more than exotic window dressing. Maybe because she’s a fully fleshed-out (sorry) character, the tension between the three felt more organic — I liked her. In fact I was rooting for her. In fact, I liked these characters enough that I wanted to spend more time with them, and according to Barry I will, hopefully sooner rather than later, get my chance.

Head over to www.barryeisler.com for lots of useful and interesting writing on politics and self defense.

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