The Hawk Enigma
by J.L. Hancock
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Pub Date 04 Jun 2022 | Archive Date Not set
The Hawk Enigma
A gifted military technician named Voodoo lives with a destructive past. His technical skills have earned him the respect of hardened Special Operators whom he considers friends to this day. Life is hard for Voodoo, however, with painful memories of war and the loss of loved ones. He copes by throwing himself into his work for a secretive military research organization known as the Directorate.
Everything changes one night when a familiar voice from Voodoo’s past interrupts his nightmares with a cryptic prophecy. To his surprise, the very next day, he is called upon by his warfighting colleagues to help recover two missing scientists in Japan working on something called the “God Algorithm.” In the wrong hands, the God Algorithm has the potential to shift global power.
Voodoo is soon assigned to a team of special operations forces to infiltrate the resistant Japanese officials and ferret out the real adversaries. The yakuza and shadowy financiers pose formidable adversaries for Voodoo’s team as gunfire and explosions leave a trail of disaster in their wake. A loner with a troubled past and bleak future, Voodoo can accept the dangers he faces but is he willing to sacrifice the lives of his brethren-in-arms for this mission?
This heart-pounding technothriller will put you on the front lines of an A.I. arms race with the future of freedom at stake. Can Voodoo find the scientists in time, or will his personal dreams morph into a world of nightmares?
Authored by a lead innovation specialist for the U.S. Navy special operations community and a subject matter expert in autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence, J.L. Hancock uses his background as a cryptologist and linguist in this fast-paced thrill ride. His work within the dark corners of the intelligence communities provides an authentic voice to his first novel that is sure to leave you begging for more.
Fans of military fiction and cutting-edge technology, like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Michael Crichton’s techno-thrillers, or Jack Carr’s James Reece, will love The Hawk Enigma.
"A war veteran’s precognitive dreams place him in a fight for the latest AI technology in this techno-thriller.
A man nicknamed Voodoo fought in the Iraq War as an “enabler,” or target finder. His shooting skills earned him the respect of hardened soldiers like Stu Slater and Eric Francisco, men he still counts as friends today. Life is tough for Voodoo, however, with nightmares of war and his wife lost to cancer. He copes by throwing himself into work with the San Diego, California–based Directorate, a military research lab. When his fellow vets ask to meet up, Voodoo is stunned to learn that they want him to join a rescue mission in Tokyo, Japan. In a recent dream, a voice said for him to “rise and face the eastern threat.” It turns out that scientists Dr. “Taka” Hawkins and Dr. Kenzo Ichikawa, who were working on something called the “God Algorithm,” are missing. Dr. Naomi Shimoda, the third scientist involved in the research, now fears for her life. When Voodoo and company reach Tokyo, they come up against the yakuza and a shadowy financier. Hancock’s debut is a smart, emotionally deft adventure that moves at an assured pace. The narrative toggles among flashbacks to Voodoo’s youth as a river rafting guide, his time in Iraq, and the present. The Iraq sequences are fantastic, showing both the humanity and horror found in wartime. The rafting scenes portray a group of friends whose identities, once revealed, add emotional weight to the finale. Deeply affecting is Voodoo’s rationale for his life: “This desire to fill a void pushed him to achieve incredible things. It also prevented him from finding satisfaction.” The occasional moments of violence are spectacularly cinematic (“Voodoo stabbed his index finger into the man’s eye. It slid into the socket and Voodoo felt a pop”). The final page leaves Hancock’s hero refreshed for the next installment.
A meticulous, inventive, and sharply written debut."
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We have Voodoo, an Iraq vet carrying the baggage of a kill during a mission . . . a 12yo kid. Years ago. And he still has nightmares. He’s also a widower. His wife died a couple years ago from cancer. More nightmares. Voodoo (his handle, his entire team has such handles) may be a skilled shooter, but he’s also a hunter be it human or virtual. His team has the requisite digital geniuses and muscle.
The team has been activated to find an American artificial intelligence scientist working in Japan. Looks like the next big front in warfare is the use of AI and this tiny group of brains in Japan has a step on everyone. First one scientist is beheaded, another looks to have died in ritual suicide. The third (the American) has been kidnapped. The fourth (Naomi) is on the loose coming back from a meeting in the US. Someone is after them primarily for one particular subroutine of their system called The God Algorithm (a way to use a person’s subconscious to predict and manipulate the future; heavy stuff). Naomi finagles a place on Voodoo’s team.
The team arrives in Japan with little preparation and start hunting for something they’ve little understanding. About all they know is that the Japanese yakuza (mafia) is gunning for this algorithm. And it’s hard for Voodoo to trace the bad guys because the yakuza have co-opted most every civil network in Tokyo, particularly the CCTVs.
But seriously, are we to believe that a crime network has the digital chops to do any of this? Probably not. Mostly likely there is/are governments all trying to take a light year jump ahead of everyone else by getting this God Algorithm.
This is a technothriller on the digital front and could easily come from Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Jack Carr or any other of a dozen modern thriller writers. Good characters. Believable storyline. Briskly plotted. What more could you ask for? Kept me glued to my seat.
Thanks to NetGalley for the advance review copy. Due to be released June 4, 2022.