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Inside Out
Barry Eisler

Ballantine Books
June 29, 2010 / ISBN 978-0345505101
Political/International Thriller

Reviewed by Dennis Collins


We first met black ops soldier Ben Treven in the novel Fault Line. He reluctantly returns to duty in Inside Out. His former commanding officer, Colonel “Hort” Horton, finds Ben wasting away in a Philippine prison for killing a man in a bar fight. Ben’s only way out of jail is to rejoin Hort’s forces in a new and dangerous assignment. Ben agrees to the terms and the adventure begins.

It appears that ninety-two CIA video tapes of suspected terrorist interrogations have fallen into the hands of a rogue black ops agent who had supposedly been killed while on a past assignment. Daniel Larison has seemingly risen from the dead threatening to make these very damaging tapes public unless his demand for a hundred million dollars in uncut diamonds is met.

Hort’s division is not the only government agency trying to recover the tapes. The CIA feels that their ownership trumps any other department’s right to the tapes and they are prepared to defend their claim with lethal force, even if it means killing other American agents.

The FBI enters the chase as well, and Ben finds an unlikely ally in a female FBI special agent. He takes her along for the ride and opens her eyes to the raw reality of international manhunts. She opens his eyes to a new meaning for the phrase, “War makes strange bedfellows.”

Their quarry proves to be an accomplished assassin, thwarting every effort to corner him by simply wiping out the pursuit teams. It soon becomes apparent that there is only one man capable of countering the deadly skills of Daniel Larison, and that man is Ben Treven.

This story ends with question marks instead of exclamation points. There are unresolved dilemmas and hazy futures for several of the characters. In the end, the reader may wonder just how well he really knows Hort or Ben. There are also hints that John Rain and his sidekick “Dox,” operatives from earlier Barry Eisler novels, may soon be joining forces with Ben and company.

Barry Eisler brings us another very thought provoking thriller that warns us of the dangers within our system and those who try to hold those dangers in check. The combination of brutal non-stop action and political intrigue will satisfy a broad audience. Eisler’s characters are solid and, in spite of their violent nature, quite likeable. We’ll be hearing from this cast again.

Reviewer's Note:


Reviewed 2011
© 2011