JK’s Code (Brooks/Lotello #4), by Ronald S. Barak

Eight stars

Ronald S. Barak is back with another explosive thriller that mixes politics, technology, and a dash of satire to entertain a the reader effectively. Jake Klein is a computer genius at only twenty. He scores a lucrative invite to a secret conference on election meddling and takes away more than a few pointers on how to rig an election, including backdoor access into a highly dangerous hacker’s computer. Jake soon learns of a plan by the Russians to once again influence and meddle in the upcoming 2020 US election, which is backed by the current POTUS. Trying to get the message out, Jake is soon discovered and two superpower governments seek to neutralise him for all he knows. With Election Day approaching, he will have to act swiftly, or face another four years of horrible leadership. Barak knows how to convey a wonderful story with a twist to keep the reader engaged.

Jake Klein knows his way around a computer, even at a young age. Known to those around him as JK, Jake finds himself tripping upon a private conference in Eastern Europe whose aim is to highlight how to rig elections through voting machines. When he scores an invite, Jake is ready to take the information and ensure it is passed along to those who need it.

While at the conference, JK takes the bold move of installing a tracker on the computer of a powerful hacker, just to see what he can discover. When he is back in the US, JK learns just how dangerous things can get, as he uncovers plans to infiltrate the 2020 US election once more. Led by the Russians, with full support of the current US Administration, the plan would be to use voting machines to skew results and leave a destructive leader in the White House. As JK trie to stop this, he is discovered by powerful sources in each government, making him a wanted man.

While JK tries to dodge those who are after him, he confides in his sister about what is going on. She, in turn, entrusts the help of others around her to locate and rescue JK before it’s too late. Talk of assassination, treason, and permanent incarceration circle around, while JK is being held captive. Knowing what he is doing is for the good of the many, Jake stops at nothing to ensure that the truth comes out, or that election results are not tainted ahead of this most important election for America. Ronald S. Barak does well to keep the reader engaged, adding his own spin on events in the not too distant past.

I stumbled upon the world of Ronald S. Barak a few years ago and was immediately hooked. His mix of law, politics, and satire had me wanting to know more as quickly as I could. This is another great book that packs a punch, while also conveying some of the seriousness that befell the US election system, with some spewing “fix” on both sides. A strong narrative and highly detailed plot keeps the reader engaged and curious as to how things will progress, which is just the kind of book I needed. Eager to see what else Barak has in store for this series, which took a turn away from the strict legal storyline.

Jake Klein (JK) plays a wonderful protagonist in this piece, offering up some great backstory and development throughout. Young and keenly aware of his surroundings, JK can tap into things with ease and expound on them. He is attune to the world around him, yet somewhat naive when it comes to life, as is shown throughout this piece. Relying on the help of others, JK makes his mark and uses his brains to face-off against two powerful entities, both with plans to annihilate him, given then chance.

Legal thrillers are definitely my cup of tea, given the chance to get lost in their storylines. Ronald S. Barak has done well with his past stories, but spins things in this one, while adding some satire to what was a highly tense 2020 US election campaign. His narrative in this piece flows well and kept me on my toes throughout, never sure in which direction he would take things. The plot seemed clear, but definitely had some twists to keep things interesting. Mixing chapter lengths, Barak tears the reader to “read a little more”, which was his stated goal in the author’s introduction. Adding that satirical side is sure to anger some who would don their silly red ball caps, but that is perhaps the point. I liked the blend of serious topic and lighthearted banter, which made reading this book all the easier for me.

Kudos, Mr. Barak, for another winner. Bring on more, as I am eager to see where things will go in this series.