In Breakfield and Burkey’s (The Enigma Factor, 2013) latest techno-thriller, a group combats evil in the digital world, with multiple assignments merging in Acapulco and the Cayman Islands.
When Thiago Bernardes’ daughter, Lara, goes missing after their argument, the businessman seeks help from Otto, head of the R-Group. JAC, aka Julie, finds a lead in Acapulco, where fellow group members (and lovers) Jacob and Petra are vacationing. The couple meets Simone and Carlos, the latter of whom hires Jacob to investigate a bank in the Cayman Islands and who, along with his brother Juan, may be responsible for the disappearance of Mexican drug lords and their money. In this, the second book in the Enigma series, the authors churn out a more streamlined narrative; while the first novel was essentially an origin story—dealing mostly with the recruitment of Jacob, who’s a minor player this time around—this volume dives right into the story with already established relationships such as Jacob and Petra’s. From there, the narrative efficiently sets up Carlos and Juan’s failed drug business and their decision to try their hand at laundering drug money. The story boasts strong characters: R-Group hacker Quip and JAC (both of whom are more pivotal to the narrative this time around) and Carlos, whose business ventures pit him in the role of villain but whose later choices—he considers giving up everything for Simone—make him much more commendable. Yet the shadier characters have more impact: Jesus, though Carlos and Juan’s uncle, is introduced holding a knife to Carlos’ throat, and sleazy porn filmmaker Spencer spends much of his time luring (or attempting to lure) women into his movies. Despite the porno subplot, the story is surprisingly tame: Simone’s friend Rita has to explain to Petra what a lap dance is. Strangely, R-Group’s missions are resolved well before the end, and the book’s final act focuses on the romantic connection between Carlos and Simone; Thiago’s attempt to placate board members demanding a successor (he’s waiting for Lara’s return); and an act of revenge that backfires against an R-Group member. Nevertheless, the story will hold readers’ attention until its unsettling conclusion, which once again leaves plenty of room for a sequel.
A definite improvement over the first book in the series.