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This is a story about three smart, successful people who were once fast friends in college and have now been thrust together again in an unlikely, multi-layered investigation with far-reaching international implications and billions of dollars at stake. One is a forensic accountant for the SEC, one beta tests hardware and software for the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defense, and the third is a wildly successful entrepreneur, software developer and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.
They get caught up in the hunt for a corrupt Swiss banker intent on finally unloading the last of the gold stolen by his father in World War II; a violent, narcissist leader of a Mexican drug cartel making his move to take over as the head of all cartels in Central America; and the daughter of a murdered Bulgarian arms dealer making the deal that will give her mother financial stability and get them both out of the increasingly unstable arms business.
The plot unfolds as financial crimes committed by insiders put common criminal activities to shame in a world where technology has increasingly insinuated itself into our lives to good and bad effects.
Technology Interview with Thomas Maurin (aka Bonnie and Mike Hartley)
1. Why was the use of the latest technology so prominent in Broken Trust?
We had two goals for using technology: 1) acknowledging and exploring the increasing role of technology, both positive and negative, in our lives; and 2) providing a way for our heroes to have resources to combat the violent impulses and actions of our villains who used conventional weapons. It was also fun to try to imagine the likely evolution of technology and to give our heroes the likely next generation of technological devices.
2. Did you have trouble imagining the next level of devices or software that didn’t actually exist at the time you wrote about it?
We tried to not get too far into science fiction imagination, but in fact one of the pieces of software we imagined, 6D, seemed pretty science-fictiony at the time it was conceived but the big data movement produced so much advancement that we had to go back and rewrite portions about 6D to extend its power even further just to stay a tiny bit ahead of reality. By the time some readers encounter the book 6D will seem positively common. We will continue to advance the capabilities of 6D in subsequent volumes to keep up.
3. The electrochromic windows in Jamie’s houses seemed pretty far out. Is it for real?
Jamie was testing ways to avoid remote bugging of conversations in a room. Traditionally electronic bugs of varying sizes and sophistication were place in or near spaces that others wished to audibly observe. Counter measures were fairly easy to conduct to identify these electronic bugs so they can be removed or to jam the signals they emitted. To get around this problem, listening devices were developed using lasers that would shine on a glass surface from a long distance. The laser device also had a receiver that would read the laser light that was reflected back from the surface which carried with it modulations based on vibrations of the glass caused by conversations in the room. A computer could decode these modulated reflections and convert them back into analog sound. This same method could be used to bounce laser light off a glass-covered surface, like a framed picture, inside the room.
Mike created Jamie’s security system with two elements. The first is a detector that is sensitive to many spectra of laser light. When a laser is detected the system sends a signal to electrochromic film that has been applied to the window glass. When a burst of electricity is delivered to the film it turns opaque blocking the laser light. In addition, the exterior panes of glass are acoustically isolated from the inside glass to assure that sound waves inside the room are not transmitted to the exterior panes. To our knowledge this combination used as a security device doesn’t exist yet, but we believe it will soon.
4. Did Charles select the Tesla for his daily car just to fit into the Silicon Valley status scene?
We decided that Charles met Elon Musk in an X.com pitch meeting (prior to Pay Pal). They had conversations about Elon’s vision for the future and Charles realized that Elon was a true visionary with the potential for significant disruptions in more than one industry. They stayed close through the years and when Elon started Tesla, Charles was one of the first buyers of the Tesla Roadster (a car he still has, but drives only rarely). When the model S debuted Charles again was one of the first in line. He believed that with the focus on longer, more practical range, combined with the business plan to build a nationwide system of chargers, that Tesla would finally provide the platform that would prove the concept and start the slow transformation of the personal transportation field. Charles recently purchased the new dual motor Tesla S model, P85D, which he named 6D. He still has the roadster and the original S in his garage. While his primary motivation was to support his friend Elon and the transformation of the way we drive, it doesn’t hurt that the Tesla is one of best status symbols in Silicon Valley.
5. How did you scout the location for the exciting Washington D.C. car chase?
We had determined where Thomas’ office was located and used Google Earth to locate the perfect stretch of road for the car chase. We needed a specific set of parameters, including a rise in the road as an overpass, a grassy, sloped shoulder beyond a steel guard rail, and a copse of trees at the base of the slope, all within visual distance of an off ramp that led to a corridor of local streets that the hit men could use to escape. Google technology helped Mike incorporate all of those factors.
Broken Trust by Thomas Maurin is a taut financial thriller set in many different locales throughout the world. Mary Catherine Fitzsimmons (Fitz) works for the SEC. She is meeting up with a colleague and the moment he hands her a flash drive, he is a victim of a hit and run. She learns that he was working on a case involving a bank in Basel, Switzerland. She recognizes one of the names on the files as a trust that has to do with her family. When Fitz is put in charge of the case, she is determined to figure out what is going on and stopping it, especially since her family is involved. She doesn’t count on having to work with Chas, her former Harvard classmate and husband of one week. They travel the world to figure out the case, all the while being tailed by some very dangerous individuals.
Broken Trust has a lot of key characters and locations to keep track of, and the story goes back and forth between different characters. There were times I found myself re-reading a section or taking notes to make sure I was keeping track of who’s who in this book (that’s not a bad thing!). The authors do a nice job of weaving together the different parts of the story and keeping it suspenseful throughout. There were some parts of the story that I could anticipate, but overall, a nicely written thriller that had me wanting to know what in the world was going to happen next. I really liked both Fitz and Chas right from the beginning. When Jamie popped up in the story, I liked him as well. They really do feel like the three musketeers. I liked the plot development and the technological aspects of this story. The story was fast-paced and really held my interest. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the character backgrounds provided on the author’s website. It really provided a great deal of insight into our three main characters. There was background information, physical attributes, and more that was very helpful. I definitely recommend checking out the author’s website when you’re reading this book.
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