Steve Burkart
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478786719
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (08/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Master Hacker’ by Steve Burkart on Blogcritics.

“The Master Hacker” by Steve Burkart is a whirlwind spy thriller that takes readers to the heights of technological intelligence and covert operations in an intense struggle for world peace.

John Darque and his team, a covert troop in charge of maintaining the power balance in world, will need every resource available to determine the cause of an international incident –the sudden crash of a Chinese aircraft attempting to land at a military base in North Korea.

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SunHee Nham, a North Korean computer scientist working for the Chinese government, flees the constrictions of her life in China for the freedom offered in the United States.  Though she doesn’t regret her decision to leave China, she is aware that her freedom will be short-lived because she knows too much. SunHee is plagued by the hardships suffered by her countrymen in North Korea and will do whatever she can to change the status quo.

The unlikely duo of Darque and SunHee, join forces and work together, albeit reluctantly, each with their own agenda.  Each must consider at what point the stakes become too high.

I really enjoyed “The Master Hacker.”  It is energetic and thorough without being bogged down with overwhelming technical jargon.  The story shines in the details of the covert operations and the advances made in technology.  It’s frightening to think that the technological developments described in the story could ever be true; it certainly made me take pause. The author served 22 years in the military, most of his career as a counter-intelligence agent during the Cold War, and his expertise is clearly displayed in the intricate portrayal of events.

While the storyline was realistic and engaging, I personally would like to have seen greater focus on some of the characters.  Though outwardly authentic and typical to the genre, I found myself yearning for a deeper connection with the characters, which would have generated a greater interest in their cause. Perhaps readers learned more about protagonist John Darque in Burkart’s first novel, “The Orchestration.” As well, some of the nicknames held by certain characters caused a few eye rolls – Glitch, Yoda, Bugs, etc., but I found the reasoning behind the names quite entertaining. 

Overall, I found “The Master Hacker” by Steve Burkart to be a highly entertaining espionage thriller with lots of action, and a major plot twist I never saw coming.