The fight to perfect battlefield communications may prove lethal in Breakfield and Burkey’s third installment of their techno-thriller series (The Enigma Rising, 2014, etc.).
In this novel, various entities struggle to create new, successful tactical communications systems. A failed field exercise by the Chinese, for instance, results in implanted chips burning soldiers’ skin. However, when Texas A&M professor Su Lin succeeds in inserting monitoring chips into a pig, a number of different organizations take notice, including information-services organization R-Group. Otto, the son of one of R-Group’s founders, sends two employees, Jacob and Petra, to talk to the professor before a “three letter [government] agency” can. However, there are two Muslim terrorists, wanted by Interpol, who are also interested in the technology. The terrorists grab defense contractor Keith Avery and subcontractor Eilla-Zan “EZ” Marshall, who have information about the chips, and R-Group must find them before the terrorists can launch an electronic assault. As in previous books, Breakfield and Burkey infuse the narrative with technological jargon that’s intelligent but accessible. This time around, however, they’ve amped up the suspense, as R-Group has very little time to find Keith and EZ. There’s also considerably more humor in this third outing, including a number of tongue-in-cheek acronyms (such as Su Lin’s “Polymorphic Operational Programing of Technology to Aggregate Recurring Temporal Synergies,” or “POPTARTs”). In one scene, government agent Arletta Krumhunter gets a reluctant ops team to do a job with the promise of Slim Jims and beef jerky, and in others, Su Lin’s pig is shown to have just as much personality as his human counterparts. The authors continue their run of stellar villains with the returning Chairman Lo Chang, but they also add wonderfully unpredictable characters with unclear motivations. The solid ending could either stand alone or serve as a lead-in to a potential sequel.
A solid espionage thriller that adds more tension and lightheartedness to the series.