In Breakfield and Burkey’s (The Enigma Gamers, 2016, etc.) latest series installment, predatory pricing in the commodity markets may be part of a much bigger and more sinister plan.
Mike Patrick, the CEO of multinational commodities broker ePETRO, notices a conspicuous increase in oil companies’ production numbers. It’s soon apparent that none of the companies are overproducing, so someone must be tampering with the figures. This scheme not only hurts the companies themselves by dropping commodity prices, but it also harms other firms that are developing renewable energy technology, as they could lose investments. Mike calls Jacob Michaels, who did security work for him before joining the R-Group, a family-owned and -run business that combats cyberattackers. An unnamed U.S. government agency also requests R-Group’s help in explaining the plummeting prices of oil and other materials, such as coal. Jacob immediately suspects that the culprit is a “Dark Matter Organization,” manipulating commodity markets for its own purpose. It turns out that a DMO is indeed responsible, and its leadership assigns an enforcer named LJ to make sure that no one identifies them or their “carefully orchestrated plan.” This puts both Jacob and his lover, Petra, in peril when they take their investigation to London. Readers new to the series may be intimidated by the many characters in Breakfield and Burkey’s book, most of whom are returning, such as R-Group veterans Otto, Wolfgang, and Quentin “Quip” Waters. But the authors handle their players as skillfully as casino dealers handle cards, and the various subplots are consistently engaging. The main storyline is energized by its formidable villains: LJ is dangerous, but his boss is unquestionably more so—a bad performance review, for example, can end in death. The authors also sprinkle welcome touches of romance throughout, involving quite a few couples—one of whom plans to get married. The humor is more subtle but equally satisfactory, such as Mike’s private insults regarding his boss, the ePETRO chairman.
Another exciting thriller entry in a series that shows no signs of slowing down.