Another exciting thriller entry in a series that shows no signs of slowing down.

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THE ENIGMA BROKER

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.

Pub Date: March 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946858-21-4

Page Count: 346

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2017

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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