Marooned in a Manila jail after a bar fight fatality, black ops soldier Ben Treven gets a visit from his former commander, Colonel Scott Horton, who explains the price of Ben’s release: Find and eliminate Daniel Larison, a rogue operator from Ben’s unit who has stolen ninety-two torture tapes from the CIA and is using them to blackmail the U.S. government.
But other players are after the tapes, too, and to find Larison, Ben will have to survive CIA hit teams, Blackwater mercenaries, and the long reach of the White House. He’ll also have to find a way to handle Paula Lanier, a smart, sexy FBI agent who has her own reasons for wanting the tapes and is determined to get them before Ben does. With the stakes this high, everyone has an angle—everyone but Ben, who will have to find the right alliance if he wants to stay alive.
Review: Both Julie and I loved Fault Line so I was thrilled to find out Barry Eisler's new novel was a sequel, though quite able to function as a stand alone. It starts out with a brawl and snowballs into a full scale conspiracy.
This one is a little heavier than Fault Line, probably due to the fact that Ben's brother Alex has been taken out of the mix. This was a little more along the same vein as the John Rain series which I've started, but not finished. It was the family connection that originally drew me into Fault Line more so than his John Rain series, but I think I'm more attached to the character of Ben because Eisler set up roots for the character so well in the first book.
The plot is terrifyingly realistic, ripping it's facts from the headlines and creating it's own account of the details surrounding it. One of the quotes Eisler uses was quite definitive for Ben:
‘There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn’t work.’ ~ Irving Kristol
Ben has become increasingly disenfranchised through his recent experiences (In a way, he kind of reminds me a little of Seeley Booth) and he's starting to become more aware that everyone has an agenda and their own version of the truth to back them up. This is something that Ben will continue to struggle with, as there is no easy resolution for him. It's messy, but I imagine the real world of spies and assassins is messy.
There is a little more 'alphabet soup' with all of the government agencies being involved in this one and sometimes it took a minute for me to juggle the acronyms and remember who's who. The action, however is phenomenal and well worth any minor acronym confusion on my part. It took twists and turns I didn't foresee and was wrapped up without being too neat and tidy, leaving plenty of room for continuing the story throughout the series.
I've read some flack in other reviews for this novel regarding one-sided political agenda, and here are my thoughts on the matter: if you don't like Barry Eisler's politics, you probably aren't going to like his books, but that goes without saying for any author and their views, be they political, worldly, or other-worldly. And at no time did I feel that Eisler was pushing an agenda ~and I can't say that for just any other author. It certainly gave the reader a lot to think about and consider.
Eisler even worked the character of John Rain into this series via name dropping by other characters. I think it will be fascinating to see how he incorporates Rain into this series further down the road... it will also motivate me to move the rest of the John Rain series closer to the top of my ToBeRead pile.
Final Take 4.0/5