In this debut techno-thriller, the first in a planned series, a hacker finds his life turned upside down as a mysterious company tries to recruit him.
Jacob Michaels, a hacker working as a tester for a New York information-security company called PT, Inc., is happy to be invited for a meeting at DEFCON, an annual hacker convention in Las Vegas. However, the invite comes in the form of an airline ticket with Jacob’s full name and address—information that he usually keeps concealed. It soon becomes clear that Jacob is under cyberattack, as people start receiving emails he didn’t send, and even the keycard to his room gets rejected. Meanwhile, a strange man named Otto is trying to hire Jacob—while also monitoring Jacob without his knowledge. Breakfield and Burkey’s novel is a thriller for the 21st century. Instead of drug or money mules, it features “information mules” who steal others’ codes and work for organizations such as Dteam, a Russian group that pilfers funds electronically. Jacob gradually learns about Otto’s business and its possible link to Jacob’s mother, who was run down by a car; at the same time, he becomes close with fellow hacker Petra, who may be on Otto’s payroll. Later, the focus shifts toward Dteam, run by a man named Grigory, and a Chinese school for cyberwarfare run by Lt. Col. Ling Po. Grigory and Po are remarkable villains, but the new subplots make Jacob a supporting character in his own story. On the plus side, Buzz, Jacob’s rich-kid friend who paid his way through MIT, faces so many obstacles that most readers won’t notice that the protagonist is sitting on the sidelines. Some exclamations, such as “Oh, poop!” give the story the feel of a YA novel, but the story’s sex scenes are markedly adult, in a romance-novel way: “[H]e pulled her closer and kissed her with such passion she immediately heated up.”
A complex thriller with a hacker-centric plot and polished technological descriptions that may attract new fans.
Reviewed by Elise Towner for Readers' Favorite - 5 Star
The Enigma Factor by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E Burkey is a very well written story about technology professionals and the financial organizations they are empowered to protect and serve with the utmost integrity. A quote from the book was extremely appealing to me, coming from a financial background myself: “Political powers come and go, but the financial well-being cannot afford to be corrupted.” I could not agree more with that statement. The main characters exhibit a rare “Robin Hood” mentality as the story of Jacob, Buzz, and Petra unravelled, leaving me cheering for technology geeks all over the globe, and especially for the career-oriented Jacob and his newly found love interest, Petra. Trust me, there is much more to this story than just the romance. The layout of this book alone is eye-catching and the programming language “10100101011010” and the chapter titles set the tone.
I really enjoyed how the authors chronicled the meeting of two soul mates. A love story ensues with the accomplished genius Jacob and the lovely intelligent Petra. Their romance reminds me of “A Beautiful Mind”, but without the schizophrenia. Both equally yoked, Jacob and Petra share their knowledge and love for Information Technology in their respective roles when securing the assets of select upper echelons in the U.S. and their interests abroad. I was fascinated with the authors' attention to detail while completely enthralled with reading The Enigma Factor, and look forward to exploring the rest of the Enigma series. I cannot say enough about this book. If you like stories that encompass history, adventure, with all the complexities of betrayal and intrigue faced by those who provide security for the financial sector, then you will enjoy this work. I would love to see this series made into a movie! Well done!