Fault Line

Fault Line

3.9 56
by Barry Eisler, Rob Shapiro

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In Silicon Valley, the eccentric inventor of a new encryption application is murdered in an apparent drug deal.

In Istanbul, a cynical undercover operator receives a frantic call from his estranged brother, a patent lawyer who believes he is the next victim.

And on the sun-drenched slopes of Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley's nerve center of money and technology,


In Silicon Valley, the eccentric inventor of a new encryption application is murdered in an apparent drug deal.

In Istanbul, a cynical undercover operator receives a frantic call from his estranged brother, a patent lawyer who believes he is the next victim.

And on the sun-drenched slopes of Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley's nerve center of money and technology, old family hurts sting anew as two brothers who share nothing but blood and bitterness wage a desperate battle against a faceless enemy.

Alex Treven has sacrificed everything to achieve his sole ambition: making partner in his high-tech law firm. But then the inventor of a technology Alex is banking on is murdered…and the patent examiner who reviewed it dies…and Alex himself narrowly escapes an attack in his own home. Off balance, out of ideas, and running out of time, he knows the one person who can help him is the last person he'd ever ask: his brother.

Ben Treven is a Military Liaison Element, an elite undercover soldier paid to "find, fix, and finish" high-value targets in America's Global War on Terror. Disenchanted with what he sees as America's culture of denial and decadence, Ben lives his detached life in the shadows because the black ops world is all he really knows—and because other than Alex, who he hasn't spoken to since their mother died, his family is long gone.

But blood is thicker than water, and when he receives Alex's frantic call, Ben hurries to San Francisco to help him. Only then does Alex reveal that there's another player who knows of the technology: Sarah Hosseini, a young Iranian American lawyer who Alex has long secretly desired…and who Ben immediately distrusts. As these three radically different people struggle to identify the forces attempting to silence them, Ben and Alex are forced to examine the events that drove them apart—even as Sarah's presence, and her own secret wants, deepens the fault line between them.

Fault Line centers on a conspiracy that has spun out of the shadows and into the streets of America, a conspiracy that can be stopped only by three people—three people with different worldviews, different grievances, different motives. To survive the forces arrayed against them, they'll first have to survive each other.

"The first blogosphere thriller…Eisler's novel, which turns entirely on a super-secret assassinations program, is looking less like fiction and more like the work of someone who has a firm grip on what's really happening." —Scott Horton, Harper's Magazine

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Death by hit men isn't what Silicon Valley attorney Alex Treven had in mind when he agreed to sponsor a young inventor's piece of network-security software. But when the inventor and the patent office handler die in quick succession, Alex has enough survival sense to call his estranged big brother, Ben, a special-ops agent. Ben reluctantly comes to Alex's aid and finds himself entangled in something more sinister than a lucrative new invention would suggest. Beautiful, tech-savvy law associate Sarah Hosseini inadvertently gets caught up in the deadly situation and adds a touch of romance to this cyberthriller. The brothers have suffered greatly since tragedy destroyed their suburban family when they were teens; now they must overcome long-simmering resentments and band together, using their talents to outwit their unknown hunters. Intricate plotting and tech details make this thriller zip by. Eisler, who has training in covert operations and is well known for his John Rain series (e.g., Requiem for an Assassin), presents a winning first stand-alone work. Recommended for all popular collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/1/08.]
—Teresa L. Jacobsen

From the Publisher
“Thriller fans already know that Barry Eisler is one of the brightest stars out there. But now, with Fault Line–a breathlessly exciting, lightning-paced, and moving tale of suspense–I predict a whole lot more readers are going to discover how terrific he is.”
–Joseph Finder, author of Power Play

“An exciting, believable, and well-written thriller . . . Put Fault Line at the top of your reading list. I'm a new Barry Eisler fan!”—Ridley Pearson, author of Killer View

Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Looking Up

The last thing Richard Hilzoy thought before the bullet entered his brain was, Things are really looking up.

He was on his way to the Silicon Valley offices of his lawyer, Alex Treven, who had arranged a meeting with Kleiner Perkins, the Midases of venture capital who could increase a company’s value a hundredfold just by offering to invest. And now Kleiner was considering writing a check to him, Richard Hilzoy, genius, inventor of Obsidian, the world’s most advanced encryption algorithm, destined to render all other network security software obsolete. Alex had already applied for the patent, and if things worked out with the VCs, Hilzoy would be able to rent office space, buy equipment, hire staff—everything he needed to finish commercializing the product and bring it online. In a few years he would take the company public, and his shares would be worth a fortune. Or he’d stay private, and become to security software what Dolby was to sound, raking in billions in licensing revenues. Or Google would buy him—they were into everything these days. The main thing was, he was going to be rich.

And he deserved it. Working for chump change in an Oracle research laboratory, drinking Red Bull after Red Bull late at night and shivering in the deserted company parking lot for tobacco breaks, enduring the taunts and laughter he knew went on behind his back. Last year his wife had divorced him, and boy was the bitch ever going to be sorry now. If she’d had any brains she’d have waited until he was rolling in money and then tried to shake him down. But she’d never believed in him, and neither had anyone else. Except Alex.

He walked down the cracked exterior steps of his San Jose apartment building, squinting against the brilliant morning sun. He could hear the roar of rush hour traffic on Interstate 280 half a block away—the whoosh, whoosh of individual cars, trucks grinding gears as they pulled on from the entrance ramp at South Tenth Street, the occasional angry honk—and for once, having to live like this, right on top of the freeway, didn’t bother him. Even the cheap bicycles and rusting barbecues and stained plastic garbage containers crammed together against the side of the adjacent building didn’t bother him, nor did the reek the autumn breeze carried from the overflowing parking lot Dumpster.

Because Alex was going to get him out of this sewer hole. Oracle was a client of Alex’s firm, and Hilzoy was Alex’s contact on patents there. Hilzoy hadn’t been overly impressed initially. He’d taken one look at Alex’s blond hair and green eyes and figured him for just another pretty boy—rich parents, the right schools, the usual. But he’d recognized soon enough that Alex knew his shit. Turned out he wasn’t just a lawyer, but had degrees from Stanford, too—undergraduate in electrical engineering, same as Hilzoy, and a Ph.D. in computer science. He knew at least as much programming as Hilzoy, maybe more. So when Hilzoy had finally worked up the nerve to pull him aside and ask about patenting Obsidian, Alex had gotten it right away. Not only had he deferred his fees, he’d introduced Hilzoy to a group of angel investors who had put in enough money for Hilzoy to quit his day job and buy the equipment he needed. And now he was poised to take money from the biggest swinging dicks of all. All in the space of a single year. Unbelievable.

Of course, there were aspects of Obsidian that the VCs might not like if they knew about them. They might even have found them scary. But they wouldn’t know, because there was no reason to tell them. Obsidian could protect networks, and there wasn’t a Fortune 500 company out there that wouldn’t pay out the wazoo for that. That’s what VCs understood. The rest . . . well, that would all just be his little secret, a kind of insurance policy to fall back on if Obsidian’s intended uses weren’t enough to command the proper sums.

He looked at his watch. He was nervous about the meeting. But there was time enough for a cigarette; that would calm him down. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and fired one up. He took a deep drag, then put the pack and the lighter back in his pocket. There was a white van parked next to his car, an ’88 Buick Regency he’d bought after selling his Audi during the divorce. humane pest control, the van said. He’d noticed it here, what, three times in the last week? Four? He’d seen a rat once, under the Dumpster. And there were roaches. Somebody must have made a stink with building management, and now the idiots were trying to show they were doing something about it. Whatever. Pretty soon that would all be someone else’s problem.

There were some scares along the way, existing inventions Alex was concerned might prevent them from getting a patent. And something about a possible secrecy order from the government, which could slow things down. But so far Alex had always found a way around the problems. The patent hadn’t been issued yet, but the application itself was bankable.

Hilzoy had been worried at first about describing the source code in the patent application because anyone who got hold of it would know the recipe for Obsidian, but Alex had assured him the Patent and Trademark Office maintained all applications in strict confidence for eighteen months, at which point they’d have a good idea about whether a patent would be forthcoming. And once the patent was issued, it wouldn’t matter whether people knew the recipe or not—they couldn’t use it without paying him the big bucks. And if they tried to, Alex would sue them into the ground. That’s right, people, you want to play, you got to pay.

He paused in front of the Buick and got out his keys. What a piece of crap. It had over a hundred thousand miles on it and every one of them showed. It was the kind of car you could piss all over and no one would even notice. A Mercedes, he thought, not for the first time. Or maybe a BMW. Black, a convertible. He’d have it detailed four times a year so it would always look new.

The pest control guy got out of the van. He was wearing a baseball cap, coveralls, and gloves. He nodded to Hilzoy through a pair of shades and moved past him. Hilzoy nodded back, glad he didn’t have to kill rats for a living.

He took a drag on the cigarette, then tossed it away, enjoying the feeling of wasting it. He blew the smoke up at the sky and unlocked the car door. Yeah, baby, he thought. Oh yeah. Things are really looking up.


Meet the Author

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler’s bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous “Best of” lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. The first book in Eisler’s John Rain series, Rain Fall, has been made into a movie starring Gary Oldman that will be released by Sony Pictures Japan in April 2009. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and Tokyo.

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Fault Line 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
RockwallTed More than 1 year ago
Having read and loved all Barry Eisler's John Rain books, I was very eager to read his newest yarn. It pains me to say that this book is not nearly as exciting as his previous novels. As several scenes start off with promise and intrigue, none seem to truly deliver. The characters here seem more remote and not very interactive. Alex's potential love interest, for example, like his relationship with his brother is barely developed at all which makes it hard to understand or invest in these characters. They don't stir enough passion to generate much of a rooting interest. This book is less technical with fewer tricks and gadgets, but the biggest downfall seems to be the loss of the paranoia that surrounds John Rain. I understand that Alex and Ben are not Rain, but there are obvious parallels, and Rain's assassin is just a far more interesting character who always seems to be at serious risk of discovery or great harm. In short, if you are new to Barry Eisler, start with his John Rain series and you are in for a real treat.
mrkool More than 1 year ago
Love Barry Eisler as a writer, but this one was way off the mark. Even though I liked the characters, I had a hard time getting into the story. The premise was good, but the story was tedious...except those times when we had a confrontation and a satisfactory solution to it. I find that there is more thought in the Rain Novels.....maybe if we combined the action of Rain with these new characters, we would be looking at something better.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for another John Rain thriller, this isn't it. "Fault Line" is Barry Eisler's first stand alone novel. This is the story about two estranged brothers, Alex (an attorney in Silicon Valley) and Ben (a government assassin). When those involved in a project that Alex is working on are killed, he calls his brother for help. Their personality's clash (Alex is by the book, and Ben, the rogue) and they also have some unfinished business due to the death or their sister when they were kids. There is certainly a lot of bloodshed, violence and some sex in this book, but it isn't one of Mr. Eisler's best. Although I was drawn to the characters and the story, it was somewhat predictable. The climax was a little of a shock but still then the ending wasn't much of a surprise. I enjoyed the book, but look forward to another John Rain adventure.
edofarrell More than 1 year ago
I like Eisler's work and have enjoyed his other novels. Not this one. It was plastic, predictable and poor. The plot line, even the ending, are entirely predictable after the first couple of chapters. The 'bad guys' are obvious and the lust angle just droll. The back story is just trite and the tension between the brothers just never feels real. If you're waiting for a flight and desperate for a book to read on the plane, this one might be a choice ... but otherwise steer clear.
DavDB More than 1 year ago
Finally Eisler tells a story with believable characters drawn from real life and also creates plot that allows them to interact. I see Eisler maturing as a writer of political thrillers. I still think he could be less didactic in his presentation of political issues. I just read Michael Segedy's Evil's Root and it made me think of Eisler. Eisler could learn from Segedy on presenting political commentary. Segedy's novel is much more integrated and non-preachy. Overall this work is a giant step in the right direction for Eisler. I hope to read more novels where he uses the same characters, or same type of characters.
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Jaclk More than 1 year ago
What's going on here? Hardcover for $5.38 and Nook for $7.99. This is ridiculous, why would anyone buy this excellent writers books for a Nook at this price difference?
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SEA44 More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I have read a book that was not a mystery, and I can tell you I was not dissapointed,the author captures your attention from the beginning and you have a hard time putting the book down. A must read for everyone,no matter your reading taste are.