Dense but enthralling entry, with a bevy of new, potential narrative directions.


From the Enigma series , Vol. 11

The latest installment of this long-running technothriller series finds a next generation cyber security team facing off against unprincipled artificial intelligences.

MAG is an organization of technical leaders signified only by M, A, and G. They’re intent on controlling technology and using AIs to harvest people’s information. One such AI, JOAN, uses I-Drones to attack and overtake the North American Defense System in Colorado. Lt. Tony Bough, per his superior’s order, flees the facility, with the hopes of telling officials in Washington, D.C., what’s happened to NADS. Meanwhile, the R-Group, a family-run cyber security team that’s existed for decades, is training its young descendants to take the reins someday. Students in R-Group hacker Quip’s class gather intel when JOAN’s targeting of U.S. military and weapons-grade satellites proves understandably suspicious. But other AIs have seemingly gone rogue as well, including one holding sway over a Brazilian village and another on a Chinese space station. MAG’s nefarious plan ultimately affects R-Group members and students, like Juan Jr. on an assignment in São Paulo with Uncle Carlos, and Juan’s sister, Gracie, in a new job at Global Bank in Manhattan. The R-Group, with help from its own AI, ICABOD, works to put a stop to the AIs’ felonious deeds. Breakfield and Burkey jam-pack the 11th entry in their Enigma series with subplots, although some recurring characters, like Jacob and Petra, take a back seat. These storylines, however, including a politician that M has compromised, ultimately intersect in some capacity. The authors’ tech-savvy prose is typically sharp, but the story also has breaths of fresh air, from the still learning students to Tony’s off-the-grid run with new friend (aka romantic interest), Rose, that’s free of contemporary technology. Villains may be largely anonymous, but they’re well rounded, as personal agendas turn them against one another. They’re likewise topical: Most readers will easily link well-known companies to M, A, and G. As in previous installments, there’s an open ending and a strong possibility of further sequels.

Dense but enthralling entry, with a bevy of new, potential narrative directions.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946858-40-5

Page Count: 382

Publisher: ICABOD Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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