Self-Published Book Review: “The Master Hacker”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

steve burkart the master hacker

The Master Hacker

by Steve Burkart

ISBN: 9781478786719

next generation indie book awards


There are hackers, and there is THE hacker … the one who can end warfare as we know it, or start a war only she can win. When SunHee Nham, a disaffected North Korean computer scientist working in China, decides to escape her conscription, she takes a few secrets with her. Her dream of living in freedom in the U.S. begins to prey on her mind when she thinks about the hardships under which her fellow countrymen are forced to live. After a chance meeting with John Darque, the head of a covert organization charged with maintaining the balance of power in the world, the two form a partnership to destroy a weapon system she developed for use against Western nations. When she becomes aware of pursuing Chinese agents, she knows her freedom will be short lived. To make matters worse, she realizes her association with Darque’s group will put it in danger of being exposed. SunHee’s noticeable depression changes for the better when Darque poses a plan to turn the tables on a group of rogue nations intent on using the technologies she developed to blackmail the rest of the world. She agrees to help Darque with his plan in the hope that the results will create the spark of change needed to better the lives of her countrymen. However, with change comes sacrifice, and sometimes the price of sacrifice can be very high.

 * courtesy of

Featured Review

In The Master Hacker by Steve Burkart, a Chinese aircraft had crashed while trying to land at a North Korean military base. The north blamed South Korea for the incident, heightening the existing tension between the two countries. Head of a covert organization, John Darque is intrigued by the news and decides to investigate it together with his team. When hacker SunHee Nham arrives in the U.S. and visits her cousin and uncle, Darque and his team’s involvement is sealed when they get rid of two Chinese agents who were on her trail. Now, SunHee has to decide whether she should trust Darque and cooperate with him to topple the agenda by several rogue nations while ensuring the success of her own plan.

The first chapter of this plot-driven espionage thriller delivers a great opening for the story concept, where protagonist SunHee flees her native country, and not without saying ‘goodbye’ to her military superiors as the plane she boarded takes to the air. It gives us the first insight into her persona and her skills. The plot is well-structured and there’s plenty of action. Characterization is solid, even though I relate more to SunHee compared to other protagonists. I found some parts of the dialogue a bit stilted and am slightly ambivalent about the monikers for some of the characters. That said, the dialogue as a whole is to the point, and the moral and ethical discussions between Darque and SunHee are interesting. All in all, The Master Hacker is engaging from start to finish, a riveting book with thought-provoking espionage and intrigue enough to make us question the ‘facts’ behind the news we receive from the media.

– Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite

Other Reviews

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.

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 for peace.

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.

– reviewedby Sheri Hoyte on Seattle PI

Espionage genre with a contemporaneous twist

– reviewed by Chuck on Amazon


tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor


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