KIRKUS REVIEWS—August 12, 2016
Covert operative Jake Pendleton returns to stop a possibly devastating cyberwarfare alliance between North Korea and Iran in Barrett’s latest series thriller.
Jake’s latest assignment as emissary for Virginia espionage firm Commonwealth Consultants sends him to Italy. He and his partner, Italian intelligence agent Francesca Catanzaro, are searching for a hacker nicknamed “The Jew,” who’d tried to warn two American executives of their company’s cybersecurity breaches. The Defense Department was a major client of both companies, and when the aforementioned executives turn up dead, government officials believe that Iranian hacking team Tarh Andishan may be responsible. A series of cybercrimes in the United States further indicates that Iran has aligned itself with North Korea. A major cyberattack called “Disruption” appears to be underway, involving the hacking of various countries’ banking systems. The scheme may involve Boris, a cyberterrorist whom Jake once failed to capture in Washington, D.C., and may also be connected to the disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner more than two years ago. Jake, meanwhile, is worried about Francesca, who seems distracted by her former partner and lover, Marco Serreti, the deputy director of Italy’s intelligence agency. Despite this, Jake and Francesca rush to locate “The Jew” before Disruption begins. This high-speed thriller moves quickly through different parts of the world and through the stories of its myriad characters. It’s all very straightforward but maintains a high level of intensity. Barrett wisely keeps the plot simple and the technical jargon at a minimum, defining terminology in the context of the narrative without interrupting the flow. Barrett adds other twists to preserve the momentum, such as when Jake’s love interest, Kyli, gets caught in a lab explosion. Although Jake and Francesca get involved in multiple chases and occasional brawls, their involvement with the actual cyberthreat is often superficial. Early on, Jake admits, “I don’t know much about hacking,” and he needs others to explain concepts, such as a digital signature. This does, however, give a relatively minor character, Commonwealth Consultants analyst George Fontaine, a chance to shine.
An adrenalized, technology-laden actioner.