A definite improvement over the first book in the series.

THE ENIGMA RISING

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493676897

Page Count: 322

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

more