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mickey mikkelson
Service Provider
Enigma Tracer
The clock is ticking ... can Gracie uncover the truth? Phillip Pliant is the wealthy opportunist plastics dealer, and CEO of Pliant Industries. He’s also a master thief—creating a pervasive threat to the manufacturing infrastructure in the Caribbean islands markets. With the cartel as his stealth client, the naïve city leaders have been seduced, enabling the production of more than 3-dimentional building materials. And set the stage for massive chaos and destruction. Pliant has locked up contracts, assets, and control of any future expansion. His contacts and clients salivate over their probable financial reward—the expected profits are monstrous. Is the R-Group, now led by Gracie and the family heirs, strong enough to win against this predator? Can JJ’s CATS (Cyber Assassin Technology Services) act on the root-cause analysis in time? Gracie never considered their lives would hang in the balance between winning and losing. Will the devious plot be uncovered in time? The clock is ticking. Five ... four ... three ...
Breakfield and Burkey, authors of the twelve-book, high-tech Enigma Series, kick off their Enigma Heirs spinoff with a light-touch mystery/thriller with a focus on cyber crime, a little romance, and a lot of friendship. Though most people see them as typical young, successful professionals, Gracie Rodreguiz and company secretly work in a deadlier trade: she covertly assists clients around the world facing cyber threats from the "Darknet.” Gracie’s new assignment? To uncover the true intentions of the CEO of a plastics company who happens to be a thief—and who, in serving his cartel-based clients, poses a threat to not only the manufacturing infrastructure in the Caribbean, but beyond.

There is a promising series premise here, with a compelling villain and clever scenes of planning and executing an investigation, as this brisk, short novel moves between genres—thriller, romance, contemporary fiction. The authors blend tension and froth as Gracie and Bailey, working in their undercover life with their boyfriends, are portrayed as savvy, skilled covert ops who are committed to taking down the bad guys but also impulsive ”girls” (the narrator’s word) who need to be saved by the men in their lives. The mix at times is unstable, though. The plot calls for Gracie and Bailey to take advantage of men’s presumption that they’re silly and non-threatening, a fresh and fun twist, but Enigma Tracer doesn’t often allow these accomplished women to command these scenes as they take down their target.

More background material on the family and how this business came to be could have deepened reader engagement. Scenes of cutting-edge tech, surveillance, drone flights, and clever problem solving are contrasted with Gracie and Bailey blow-drying hair, picking out their outfits for their meeting with the villain, and—in a vital, revealing scene—telling off Gracie's brother, JJ, who also runs a cyber security org. The blend of genres and tones is tricky but audacious.

Takeaway: Brisk, frothy thriller mixing high-tech investigation and romance.

Comparable Titles: Kat Wheeler’s There Is No Cloud, Christopher Kerns’s Crash Alive.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A