Some commodities are so valuable and profitable that people will go to many lengths to obtain them. Murder, poaching, illegal hacking into credit accounts, websites or social media outlets won’t stop someone when they want to acquire their coveted goals. Ivory is one thing that many will kill for as we learn within the pages of this novel as Allison Schwartz learns the true meaning of fear, betrayals, and distrust and overcomes many adversaries including those that are sworn to protect her. Allison is a coder and musician who wrote a code and unknowingly modified it to protect her creation her symphony. But, within this coding she was able to create safeguards but one failed as her identity was hacked and she came onto the radar of the CIA. Her privacy gone, her freedom curtailed and her movements monitored as Allison had no choice but to agree to go undercover to capture and trap the hackers who hijacked her website to trade ivory. Things started with a simple bump on the street as someone bumped into her, picked up her phone in exchange for his and here is where things spiraled out of control. Meeting a handsome street vendor who comes from Tanzania and who has no intentions of leaving America, she gets trapped into his world and has to untangle this web of cybercrime before the trail goes dead and there is no way out. Agents running her life, telling her she has no choice she meets Hugh Carey a young man who has been enlisted to do the scenery for a play or production her mother is creating. But, since Allison seems to be the key to finding their poachers and these ivory traffickers, someone else comes on the scene trying to divert their attention, pretending to want to uncover any problems in the systems used for the special effects scenery in the show and hopefully do more than just take it and Allison down. Allison cannot betray her handlers and each need to rely on Sipho for help when she eludes her handlers and returns to New York City. She is hoping to bring down the mastermind behind this scheme of forever lose her precious symphony and the privacy we all cherish. As the CIA agents lay out the plot and the plan things of course do in different directions as she and Sipho fall into the wrong hands, he is tortured and threatened, thrown into a huge hole covered with a steel plate as Allison is poisoned, beaten and kidnapped. Meeting the person she is supposedly getting the tusks for, negotiating the price and then hopefully getting it to where it is supposed to go, her inner feelings are expressed as she has to deal with the endangered elephants begin slaughtered, pretend to want to sell their tusks and deal with cyber trends and the entire link to her music. Thinking that no one will find the hidden code in her music and the cybercrime syndicate would agree with her, she learns that the very people that she is helping are not always going to be there to protect and guard her and the three weeks that she was commissioned to create her symphony are hampered as agents Cavanah and Garrett seem to be in control of her life. Syndicate transactions of arms for ivory is serious and using Allison as the target or bait to set the trap she faces grave danger. Can she trust the musicians she is working and collaborating with on line? Her virtual orchestra cannot protect her from her music being pirated and the codes and accesses that she had have been compromised. Sipho is a police informant who has decided to become a confidential informant not to be deported. To help save her he goes to Dar es Salaam where they both supposed to disappear and pick up the digital trail. Learning about the Dark Web used by vendors is quite telling as they supposedly use it legally and to trade to underground markets. Allison is kidnapped while undercover and brought to someone thought to be a warlord. Poisoned during a poaching raid she goes into a coma in Zanzibar. Allison takes on the identity of Diane Kane who does not look like her at all but who can pretend to be involved in this ivory tusk scam. With her handler by the her side she is supposed to pretend to want to buy these tucks but the handlers make a mess of the mission and the mission needs to be visited. Buying and paying for the tusks with a bitcoin purchase for the tusks from the warlord. Sipho’s network has exposed a Webmaster who is also marketing drugs contaminated with animals and who will use Allison’s code as a gateway into the US market. As Rex gets caught by the CIA and talks his way out of what he claims he did not see, they believe that he had nothing to do with the ivory but he also has a co-worker named Karen who is fooled by him, thinks she is fixing different codes and helping Glenda Schwartz, Allison’s mother with the codes needed for the play that she is doing with Hugh Carey as the set designer. Trust, love, impulsiveness and a young girl named Allison who is distant, emotionless and seems only concerned with her own wants and needs as she takes on a task that might get her killed or even imprisoned. With Sipho watching her back she hopes to save her music, the code and have a romance that will last. But, love in this paradise and in the cyber world is hampered when the CIA interrupts, threatens and forces them to face obstacles they would rather push aside.
Hearing Rex manipulate Agent Garrett and telling him about his work for the pharmaceutical company and thinking he has him in the palm of his hand as the container he wants is switched, a tusk that has a tracker is placed in another one and they hope to hack into Allison’s music code to trap the person who is handling the sale of the ivory tusks. A complex and complicated novel and story that takes us across many oceans and continents as Allison and Sipho try to live normal lives with a normal relationship but no matter how you turn it she still seems cold and distant even when trying to deal with her feelings for Sipho.
Allison is caught in the crossfire as the agents threaten and coheres her and Sipho to continue with this mission they claim will stop those selling and buying the ivory tusks yet the reader wonders if this is just a way to entrap her. With Rex trying to hack into her code and her music learning where these transactions are taking place all she wants to do is go home and live her life but will that happen in the end? Atone means to ask forgiveness and make restitution for you mistakes. What type of forgiveness will be asked of her as she too is responsible for the deaths of many elephants, the loss of their lives and she even sees the result of the carnage? Can she live with that even though she is supposedly doing something to help the CIA?
With the CIA investigating the original point of the tusk, a futile task and then possibly finding the network device in the truck cab or in the container Rex hopes that once they have it activated he could if he gets the laptop back, monitor the network traffic able to monitor the user namely Diane Kane. Subterfuge, deceit, lies and one young girl who stands in the middle of a scheme so diabolical and so devious she will never see the end coming.
The three movements of her symphony are the three major sections of this novel: Love as she falls and meets Sipho and they begin their relationship. Tragedy the second movement where she and Sipho are captured, she is poisoned and things get dangerous as she tries to work with the CIA but as you get to know the agents you will realize that although they claim to protect her they have their on interests in mind. The final one is Healing as we learn the fate of her music, we hear her play one of the movements at Lincoln Center and we learn the final fate of her efforts. Remembering the website Fruit.com brings to light to everyone just where the inception starts and who is behind the hacking of not only her music but Allison wants more and she is determined to have her own type of revenge as she says: AN EYE FOR AN EYE, for stealing her honor. The ending you won’t expect as the author creates a delicate twist that will change it all for Allison and Sipho. But, tragedy might the final ending to a symphony of sadness yet Allison remains aloof, calm and the final coda or passage that is played will either bring her down or a final success.
The freedom of privacy is our right and should not be infringed. The problem as the author relates is that the government thinks that our privacy is also their responsibility and they monitor us even when we think we are safe. That is why Allison learned to code. Money laundering, obstruction of justice and the illegal use of bitcoins just who was arrested for this and who might skate free? How far would you go to protect your interests, your goals and bring down the mastermind who is behind business so lucrative and so deadly that elephants are more than endangered, people lose their lives, handlers that might or might not be trusted and one young girl named Allison who might sacrifice you symphony and new love before she learns the true meaning of ATONE FOR THE IVORY CLOUD.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine