Let me begin by saying how much I have loved having hours to read the last few days. I’ve hunkered down for a few hours each afternoon and coursed through pages of story, something I feel like I haven’t done in years. Something I need to do more.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of reading Fault Line by Barry Eisler. Apparently, Eisler is quite well-known for his previous books, but to be honest, when I got asked to review the book, I had never heard of him (such is the life of an English professor, I suppose — too many literary novels, not enough thrillers). And a thriller this is. Set in Northern California (particularly Silicon Valley and San Francisco), the story pursues the life of Alex, a lawyer who has come upon the “hottest” software out there; in fact, it’s so hot that people connected to it are dying. In comes Ben, Alex’s brother and black ops agent for the U.S. government. Angrily, resentfully, but dutifully, Ben comes back across the world to “save” his brother. Meanwhile, Alex’s colleague, Sarah, is also in danger, and so the three become embroiled in a plot to figure out why people are killed for this piece of code and to keep themselves alive.
Eisler mixes in technology, military/spy technique, family pain, and a little romance to pull together a fast-paced novel that keeps the reader interested without leaving her with the feeling of manipulation or hyperbole that many thrillers do. The characters seem real and honest, and from what I know (remember, English teacher here), the guns, the fighting, and the technology ring true as well (although I admit that my knowledge of most of these things comes from watching The Unit on DVD from Netflix.) All in all, the book is very enjoyable.
I wouldn’t recommend this book if you are looking for something that you want to parse apart for glorious language or if you’re going to be studying complex character development – these things are not the purpose of a thriller, and thus, they suffer a bit. Yet, if you want a quick, fun, engrossing read that pulls you out of your world (I hope this isn’t your world) and gives you a way to think about new places (or revisit old ones like I did during the San Francisco scenes) and new adventures, then Fault Line is definitely for you. Take it to the beach; cuddle under a blanket with a cup of coffee; read it at the library while your kids go to story time; teach it (as I might) as a model of narrative arc that works well. It’s versatile and fun – a good summer read.