After what feels like an eternity has passed, Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey grace our bookshelves with a new addition to their epic techno-thriller saga: The Enigma Threat. This new installment is brimming with excitement, adventure and the captivating character development that we have come to know and love from this series. Not only are we visited by characters we had grown attached to in previous books, we are introduced, quite literally, to the next generation. This sets the stage for future books in the series with a new cast and allows us to witness our favorites in the newest and most unpredictable role ever: as parents.
As in previous books, Breakfield and Burkey breakdown the intricate tale they are weaving into digestible chapters. While it might seem overwhelming to pick up a book with double-digit chapter listings, they are developed in such a way that it allows the reader to remain engaged and makes the scene changes easier to follow. The pacing is just quick enough that you won’t get bored, but not too fast that you feel completely lost. As always, it’s not completely necessary to read previous books in the series, however it lends an enormous amount of backstory and character development if you do.
With such a large cast it might be difficult to remember who appeared previously and who is completely new. This is fine for new readers, but for existing fans you may have to jog your memory a bit to place some of the characters in the Enigma timeline. This is a normal effect with series that have so many installments and that have been running for such a long time. While the specialized terms are helpful, especially for newcomers or those not well versed in cyber technology and espionage, it might also be helpful to have a character list and identify which books they were previously seen in. This can help sort out who is new and who is returning, plus give new readers the opportunity to hunt down previous appearances by their favorite characters.
Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey deliver another smashing installment to the Enigma series with The Enigma Threat. There is something for everyone in this exciting and gripping adventure. With characters new and old gracing the pages readers will find the excellent content they’ve come to love and expect from this amazing duo. You can’t go wrong adding this book to your library.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B08KHMF579
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The Enigma Beyond explores how AI and supercomputers are manufacturing choices in our lives. Do you see this happening today with our current AI?
The move to put Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily lives has already started. If you have an iPhone you probably already talk to Siri. Alexa is already handling your calendar and telling you about the weather, or changing music on demand. In the high-tech world, we already use to interpret security alarms received in our data centers. The established streaming media companies have been using it to tell you about your next binge-watching exercise. These are the somewhat tame AI applications homing their skills to understand human thought processes. We wanted to explore what would happen if our lax attitude towards letting AI govern itself rather than the creator. Once we had that premise, we wanted to see Who Won the AI WARS.
This book is the eleventh volume of The Enigma series and remains riveting and exciting. What were some challenges you set for yourself as writers with this book?
The challenge is always about building a credible scenario for a great story to be told. The small details, the overlooked poor decisions, and the hopelessly heroic assumptions are needed to craft a plausible situation that we can interject our characters into. While we like “Once upon a time” type stories they simply don’t work in the techno-thriller world. We have to use known technology that can then be stretched so the reader goes “yeesh, that’s so possible! How do they get out of this scenario?” It is a real challenge in our stories to create that desired line of doubt about fiction or reality.
The science inserted in the fiction was well balanced. How did you manage to keep the story grounded while still providing the fantastic edge science fiction stories usually provide?
The technology we use in our books has either already been deployed in the data center (Cloud or on premise), or is close to becoming commercialized. We do a great deal of research and spend a lot of time trying to understand how to use the new goodies coming on line for our consumption. For that, we must understand how it will be attacked by bad actors from the Dark Net. When you spend a lot of time thinking like the bad guys, you’d be surprised about all the crazy scenarios we can create that are not that farfetched. A word of advice: don’t spend too much time or mental cycles in the Dark Net, just take some precautions.
What is the next project your working on and when will it be available?
We are currently working on two big projects for 2020. One is a non-fiction collection of Internet security from Gloabl fellow professionals/leaders. We target this to be available in the 1st quarter of 2020 as an eBook initially. We are also working on The Enigma Combat (Working title for Book 12 in The Enigma Series). Additionally, we continue to build our portfolio of short stories. And those are only the ones we are active on right now.
What happens when technology outruns our humanity?
Humans continue to give their decision making over to Artificial Intelligence. Or, was it simply confiscated? Computers are delivering manufactured choices to each person via their ever-pervasive personal devices. The seduction of mankind is eminent unless our champions can stop them.
The R-Group, with their own next generation youth, are poised to take on one of their most complex adversaries, supercomputers run by greedy powerful technological geniuses. The training for the new members of the R-Group is live, in the form of a real world cyber assault crisis. ICABOD, R-Group’s supercomputer, is their best weapon for this battle.
With corporate self-discipline gone and the power of U.S. Congressional oversight crippled, the dominance of the technical oligopolies has risen to dictate their terms.
MAG, the consortium of global technology predators, have come together to bring their insidious plans to fruition using humans’ desire for the easy and effortless lifestyles, even as it steals their freedoms. For groups caught in the cyber crosshairs, time has already run out. The social media noise blinds humanity to what is happening. MAG uses it to seize control of politics, healthcare, finances, and defense systems.
Award winning authors Breakfield and Burkey take readers, in their 11th book in The Enigma Series, on a one way trip to keeping or giving up their most precious human quality, the freedom to choose. No one saw it coming when they built computers to ease their work. Where are the guardrails to protect humans from giving up too much? Can humanity take back control?
You determine who wins in the AI Wars.
Human beings mastered technology and designed it to make work easier. However, they are now the servants to that technology. It seems that every day humans surrender more and more to technology. The R-Group yet again is on a mission to save humanity from their own creations. With new blood in the consortium, things are bound to be interesting. Will ICABOD be useful in this fight? Which side will win the war? What is to be done about the rowdy congressional oversight team? Can human beings break free of this self-inflicted dictatorship?
Breakfield and Burkey have written eleven installments in this series. It seems like the plot, prose and even character build get better with every installment. This mysterious thriller is colored with intrigue and adventure. The authors have done a great job of narrating R-group’s mission. They have described the Enigma universe in such vivid detail. The reader will walk around the scene as the chaos unfolds and technology takes over human beings’ lives. This book is an explosion of great characters and brilliant plot twists that left me sufficiently entertained.
Authors Burkey and Breakfield are very good at presenting their characters. The characters are well rounded and presented with just enough transparency to reveal their true natures but enough mystery to create an enigma. The characters are relatable and serve to execute the plot quite well. There is so much talent and determination in the characters. Despite all the hurdles and challenges that face the group, they keep going and that resolution is felt in the writing. You can tell from the tone and smooth prose that the authors have a good relationship with their characters.
The Enigma Beyond being the eleventh volume of this series remains riveting and exciting. It’s a continuation from previous installments but it did not leave me feeling like I joined a conversation in the middle. As a reader, you will find this book so well written and the plot so clever that you will want to go back in time to be introduced to the characters in their infancy. It makes for such a wonderful addition to the series despite being self-sufficient on its own.
The authors continue their mission of waking people up to the possibility of an enslaved humanity. They do it with great stories. The reader will be taken on one literary sojourn filled with mystery and intrigue after another. The Enigma Beyond will keep you gripped and teetering on the edge of your seat right from the beginning. You will certainly enjoy the authors’ uncanny ability to maintain novelty in a series that has run for so long.
Pages: 369 | ASIN: B0818875T3
Su Lin and Andy have everything they want on their farm–solitude, livestock to occupy them, and one another. Most importantly, Su Lin is worlds away from her old life. However, Su Lin and Andy are not as free from Su Lin’s past endeavors as they would like to believe. She is a genius in her own right, and that, in and of itself, may just be the downfall of her family and the entire team. As digital currencies begin to lurk behind the world’s financial curtain, Su Lin rises as one of the most desired faces on the planet as she possesses the unbreakable code that can help turn the world’s currency system upside down.
The Enigma Source, by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, features the dynamic team from Breakfield and Burkey’s long list of Enigma books and is every bit as engaging and brimming with technological advancements as each of the pair’s previous installments in the series. The Enigma Source takes readers on a journey eighty years into the past as events in Poland are related via a set of books discovered by Jacob. Throughout the book, the authors have juxtaposed Jacob’s reading of said books with the events endured by Su Lin, Andy, and the rest of the team as they fight to stop Su Lin’s nemesis, Guano.
I am never disappointed in the strength and depth of the relationships between Breakfield and Burkey’s characters. Su Lin and Andy are the focus of The Enigma Source. Their love is intense, endures each and every test thrown their way, and is to be envied. They are among the most vivid of the authors’ couples–second only to Juan and Julie.
I didn’t want to be, but I was struck by Mathias’s sense of loss over Dutch. Breakfield and Burkey have a way of making the reader see the humanity in their antagonists. A sense of pity and sorrow overwhelmed me as I read of Mathias’s grief and his tragic revelation with regards to his own staggering lack of true friendships.
ICABOD, the ever-present supercomputer, remains one of the most fascinating aspects of the Enigma series. ICABOD is a unique blend of technology and humor. Throughout the book, the team of experts turns to ICABOD for intelligence and briefings and are able to obtain the needed information almost instantly–always amazing. In addition, there exists a friendly banter between the team members and the supercomputer that lends a welcome level of levity to rather serious and many times, dark situations.
ICABOD is only the beginning of the advancements peppering Breakfield and Burkey’s work. I was fascinated by the capsule used to track Su Lin’s movements. As she prepares to fly to China, her ingestion of the tiny encapsulated tracker mesmerized me. As with each of the other Enigma books, the authors’ storylines are rich with technology that will wow readers from the first page.
I am giving The Enigma Source, by Breakfield and Burkey, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. Rich characters and spellbinding storylines permeate The Enigma Source. Readers looking to take a leap into the depths of the digital age will find everything they want within the covers of Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Source.
Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07GD6S9SP
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In The Enigma Dragon the CATS team has assembled with a singular goal, to discover the source of North Korea’s missile supply. What was your inspiration for the setup to this story?
It’s odd, but we started this story way before this subject rose so much in the forefront of our political focus. However with our acquaintances who have escaped from that country and with our reading, it seemed relevant. Sadly perhaps, a bit too real for our comfort zone.
My favorite member of the CATS team is Jamie. I found myself lost in the tale of loss and despair described in Jamie’s chapter. What were some themes you tried to capture while creating this character?
We have many friends in Ireland’s Emerald Isle and honestly enjoy the tales told by each of them. As with all people, our Irish friends have lost loves, conquered adversity, tried isolation, and would give anything to help a friend or even a close acquaintance. It’s the spirit of the people we like the most and we wanted Jamie to give that multi-dimensional lens. When we introduced him in The Enigma Gamers – A CATS Tale, which was the first of that spinoff group, we had him as a controversial character who we did not think would last. Then something happened and he took on a real aspect and who now is totally a part of our character universe. We love him even more in this tale and we’re glad you highlighted him, thank you.
This sets up the novel to deliver some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
All our stories are fun to us or we wouldn’t even bother writing them. The funniest portion was building the cape which Summit used in his disguise. Burkey was, and still is, a talented seamstress and had so much fun taking the idea of the cape and crafting it into words. We are thinking about creating a shop-online product, but time may be a prohibitive in mass production.
How do you decide on the titles of your books?
That is really a “Chicken or the Egg” question, to be honest. We do have some criteria we always follow. The Enigma portion is due to the early beginning of computers with the World War II encryption device: The Enigma Machine. Our heroes began with stealing a copy of the machine as they also helped smuggle the device from Poland to England. The other is a matter of the book’s focus and our own puzzle element. When we finish The Enigma Chronicles the final puzzle element will become clear.
Do the vast amounts of information and technology available hold humans hostage? Does analog communication create a vulnerability?
The political climate in the world is unnerving. North Korea is running missile tests, but where are they getting their deadly supplies? Meanwhile, terrorists are hiding in plain sight, using American technology that is out on display in libraries and museums for the world to see, but are using analog methods to gather and assemble their information. No internet searches equal no red flags which lets the bad guys believe they are operating undetected. But the Cyber Assassin Technology Services (CATS) team is on the job. As Juan and Julie Rodríguez send their operatives out across the globe to track down these foot soldiers also known as Analog Information Mules, they’ll discover the horrible potential treats, and learn about each other along the way.
Mike and Marge control ePETRO, an oil shipping business with offices in London and New York, but they don’t have the same business goals in mind. Marge intends to sell the North Koreans uranium in addition to oil obtained illegally from the government sanctioned Middle East. But Mike may have other plans, mainly, keeping the profits of these sales for himself. Then there is the mysterious Steven Christopher, who oversees the AIMs, and is working several angles behind the scenes. Steven is the only one trusted by both Marge and Mike, but why?
The CATs team has feet on the ground, with Ernesto and Tyler following two women through Washington, D.C. as they visit the Smithsonian looking for nuclear fusion processes and down the Texas coast where a dangerous package makes its way onto a ship bound for Asia. Jamie, an Irish man with a heartbreaking past, joins the team in Texas and finds not only a new job, but acceptance. George and Summit travel across Asia following the oil and some suspiciously mislabeled furniture. After a rocky start at being paired up, Mercedes and Brayson head to Panama and are watching a previously known Dark Net data center, but Mercedes is soon extracted to help out in D.C. She quickly becomes embroiled in Steven Christopher’s world. Brayson is left behind alone in Panama and, still recovering from a lost love, learns that he can’t truly be a part of the team until he has forgiven himself.
While Juan stays with Quip and his supercomputer ICABOD, tracking his team members and relaying constantly updated information at the team’s nerve center, Julie heads to London. Julie finds herself in the center of all the trouble as she goes undercover in the ePETRO offices. When Julie disappears, Juan drops everything to find her. Quip loops his wife EZ, a Unified Communications expert, to help monitor and control the CATS team movements so that operatives can find the culprits in their different theaters of operation.
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The Enigma Rising, written by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, is a modern-day techno thriller that explores a world of cyber crime, kidnappings, and drug cartels. R Group, is a contract team,who provides intel to businesses and is hired to find a missing heiress. Their lives collide with former drug traffickers turned money launderers in an unexpected meeting of fate. Here they must learn whether they can work together to uncover intelligence through the deep underworld of cyber crime.
The Enigma Rising begins with a concerned father Thiago meeting with his head of security team to discuss finding his missing daughter Lara. The novel then turns back to 8 months prior to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico where two brothers Juan and Carlos and a group called the “On Brothers” are meeting together to collect a mysterious shipment. This is where the novel kick starts the action with missing drugs and carefully curated criminal plans and soon spirals into a world of technology.
Drug rings, drug trafficking, and crafty criminals all band together to make up this technology thriller. At times the story has a James Bond feel except you are following the crooks rather than the authorities. Then the R Group enter the plot line. Their code of conduct is based on “maintaining the balance of power for economic and human conservancy” and throughout history, they have protected businesses and thwarted evil. This unit has been hired to help find Lara and will follow clues and a data trail in hopes of finding the missing heiress. The action is intense, the suspense is high and you will visit a world where cyber crime is at its most elite.
Even though this novel is an action story, you would be mistaken in thinking it was all guns and car chases. Instead, the crime is clever, from people posing as model agents to a couple Petra and Jacob exploring their romance in the midst of digital security investigations. The dialogue is interesting, the crime intelligent and the characters complex.
Breakfield and Burkey’s manipulation of words creates beautiful imagery for the reader. From the first pages, you feel as though you are in a current of words that flow easily and naturally. At no time did the book feel jaded or stuck which meant I found myself glued to the plot line, eager to find out what happens. Breakfield and Burkey do a fantastic job of the novel with their quirky one-liners and clever plot line.
There are surprising romances within the plot line that at times take a front seat to the action chaos. Carlos and Simone become an unlikely duo whose relationship begins with Carlos meeting Simone as she waits to appear in an adult photo shoot. From here it becomes a whirlwind romance and I enjoyed watching the two characters develop and interact with one another.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a clever action novel with a dash of lust, cyber crime, and mystery.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B00HVCU3JS
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The Enigma Broker is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a thriller, suspense, and cyber-crime as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
We actually set out to incorporate all those elements when we started sketching this book, yet we find our stories end up surprising us as they evolve. So, yes, the story did grow organically as we were writing. To be honest, we feel our stories are Techno-Thrillers, thus it makes sense to us that you find these elements within the stories. We struggle with many of the literary reviews as this category is not yet well-defined, yet your insight on this is appreciated.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is somewhat an unfair question. We like to spend time developing each character to the correct degree for the story, which helps to give us the tension we are looking for in that story. We are quite prejudice toward all of them. We have so much fun with all our characters. To put a fine point on it, for The Enigma Broker, our favorite would have to be Juan as we let him stretch in this tale to show his versatility as well as to find a stronger footing to go forward in the series.
When writing this novel together, how did you divide the work and decide on the finished product?
Our tendency has been to practice literary ping pong. For each story we start with the main premise and then rough out chapters typically ten at a time. Once we have the chapters assigned, each will work a chapter then serve it up to the other, in a back and forth exercise until the chapter is polished. We write to our strengths with the intention of making the stories sound like a single voice, and we submit that the back and forth helps achieve that for the reader. We review and criticize each portion and frequently add to each chapter as it progresses. The goal is to tell a relevant, contemporary story and have fun doing it. If it wasn’t fun we wouldn’t do it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
We are working on The Enigma Dragon, which focuses on how to conduct illegal activities without being observed digitally. It is difficult to keep your personal affairs private these days with social media and cell phones that can be easily monitored, because we have allowed technology so deep into our private space. It is hard not to use technology these days, and we incorporated that into Dragon. It has some tense segments where the characters are at risk and where others find out what they are really made of when things get tough. This one is focused on using the CATS team which was introduced in Book 7, The Enigma Gamers – A CATS Tale. This was a branch off the main series, but with a grittier core group. The Cyber Assassins Technology Services group is the new generation of detectives in the cyber space of the 21st century.
All around the world, commodity prices are plummeting, and nobody asks why.
The steep drop in the markets for oil, copper, coal, and other commodities threatens to destabilize nations and bring them to the verge of economic collapse. Amid fears that further drops in value could devastate civilization, the R-Group quietly engages.
The R-Group was formed during World War II. After delivering the Enigma machine to the British, they used their copy of the device to safeguard wealth and property from the Nazis. Today they use information-gathering and security capabilities to protect us from cyber-attack.
Jacob and Petra begin investigating the free fall in oil prices and soon discover disturbing clues that may implicate a “dark matter organization”—a shady organization that leaves no digital footprint behind. Meanwhile, ICABOD, the group’s supercomputer, teams up with government investigators to identify potential suspects. Quip and EZ also apply their special talents assiduously to the case but don’t let their work interfere with their blossoming relationship.
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