The Old Code Series Delivers the Goods

The Old Code Series Delivers the Goods

I don’t want to live in Ajay Andersen’s future world, as we experience it in the Old Code Series by Anthony W. Eichenlaub. But I do find it an interesting reflection of our own present time. In a world where even the highest-level coding skills aren’t enough to keep one safe and where there is no such thing as privacy I would quickly be overwhelmed.

Ajay, however, is not overwhelmed. He’s a world-class hacker who earlier in his career worked for the NSA. His work brought down the cryptography – all the security algorithms – of a world not much different from our own. The series starts with Ajay at 70, possibly somewhat wiser, and officially out of that high-stakes hacking world.

He is aware that he bears more responsibility for both anticipated and unanticipated outcomes in what the world has become. And he has some very real enemies who’d like to get their hands on him. But he is extremely good at not being noticed, which is exactly how he prefers things.

The silhouette of a slender man in a hat and coat, holding a cane, anchors the lower center of this cover, and the larger square design. He stands on a balcony or high place with a low barricade, overlooking an illuminated city skyline. Above to the right and left of him hover two drones. The picture is mostly dark blue, light blue, black and white. The two drones have yellow headlights, echoing the color of the words. The words say, “GRANDFATHER ANONYMOUS. ANTHONY W. EICHENLAUB.” Underneath the cover art, the words say, “Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.”
Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.

Grandfather Anonymous Immerses Readers Immediately

Regrets? Ajay Andersen has more than a few. One of them is his estranged daughter Sashi. After 20 years on zero communications, he learns in Chapter One that she is a wanted fugitive, on the lam with her two daughters (wait! Daughters? He has granddaughters?). She is alleged to have stolen something valuable.

Sashi promptly shows up on Ajay’s back doorstep. She asks him to watch his granddaughters for “a couple of hours.” But the “couple of hours” stretches way past that, and violent men shove themselves into Ajay’s world. He may not have known about them before, but the girls remind him very much of Sashi, and he discovers that he would do anything – anything – necessary to protect them.

Even when they themselves must run for it. And even when it becomes apparent that the girls are far more strange and dangerous than they seem at first. This is a fast-paced thriller set in a hazardous future that gives readers little time to catch their breath. I quickly became engrossed in Ajay and his granddaughters, and I enjoyed every twist and turn in this first novel of the Old Code series.

The silhouette of a slender man in a hat and coat, holding a cane, anchors the lower center of this cover, and the larger square design. He stands in a snowy yard outside a snow-covered log home with a board fence and an evergreen forest in the background. He confronts a projected image of a pale blue hand in a circle. Above to the right and left of him hover two drones. The picture is mostly dark and light turquoise, black and white. The two drones have yellow headlights, echoing the color of the words. The words say, “GRANDFATHER GHOST. ANTHONY W. EICHENLAUB.” Underneath the cover art, the words say, “Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.”
Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.

A Body in the Living Room Can Ruin a Private Man’s Day

Ajay Andersen, the former NSA hacker who broke the world’s encryption, is now officially nowhere worth mentioning, doing nothing of any interest to the authorities. Just hacking into his granddaughter’s startlingly secure school in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm. All because somebody triggered a secret tell that alerted him they’d looked at Kylie’s file, and he’s determined to find out who did it.

He’s protective because his granddaughter Kylie is . . . different. Her parents’ company bioengineered her and her sister with an inboard computer interface that puts a whole new spin on “digital native.” It has made them both dangerous, and endlessly endangered. Kylie’s older sister Isabelle grew up too fast. She has detached herself from her grandfather’s care.

But Ajay is determined that Kylie must have a chance for a more normal life – or as close as his family ever gets. To chart an informed course, he needs to know more about her biotech. He hopes his old friend Silas Cardoso can help him dig out more.

Until he comes home to find Silas dead in his living room. After that, things get complicated. This second outing with Ajay, Kylie, their bloodhound Garrison, and a growing cast of others  is every bit as much of a thrill-ride as the first in the Old Code series. Highly recommended!

The silhouette of a slender man in a hat and coat, holding a cane, anchors the lower center of this cover, and the larger square design. He stands on a herringbone-brick pavement, looking toward a large, Georgian mansion beyond a pair of open gates in a tall, brick wall. Above to the right and left of him hover two drones. The picture is mostly dark and light purple, black and white. The two drones have white headlights. The words on the cover are gold-colored. They say, “GRANDFATHER GUARDIAN. ANTHONY W. EICHENLAUB.” Underneath the cover art, the words say, “Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.”
Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.

An Invitation They Couldn’t Refuse

The last place Ajay Andersen and his granddaughter Kylie want to go is to a high-end dinner party. They dread the elegant affair at a high-class lakeside mansion. But it’s thrown by Kylie’s wealthy grandmother – her ruthless late father’s even more ruthless and powerful mother. Jocelyn Garver has made a point of finding them – no mean feat, when Ajay has been using his prodigious skills to keep them hidden. And when Jocelyn extends her invitation, it’s clear that declining the honor isn’t an option.

So here they are, with Garrison, the old bloodhound, as Kylie’s emotional support animal. The mansion is a high-security maze. The other guests are an odd assortment of moneyed power-brokers, social climbers, an investigator, a mercenary prince, and another girl with biotech something like Kylie’s – only not exactly. They’re all penned within Jocelyn’s gates to dance in attendance on whatever business she intends.

Then her supposedly impregnable power-grid goes out, the mansion is plunged into darkness, and when the lights come back on a guest has been murdered. One of those classic murder in a remote mansion mystery tropes? Not in Ajay’s world. Nothing is ever locked if you have the right keys, and no one is above suspicion (well, except Garrison, maybe). Even locking your granddaughter in a panic room is no guarantee of safety. The murder is only the first plot twist.

The silhouettes of a young woman and a slender man in a hat and coat, holding a cane, anchor the lower center of this cover, and the larger square design. They walk toward an illuminated bridge or similar kind of pipe-and-beam structure. Above to the right and left of them hover two drones. The picture is mostly dark and light blue, black and white. The two drones have pale yellow headlights. The words on the cover are gold-colored. They say, “GRANDFATHER ZERO. ANTHONY W. EICHENLAUB.” Underneath the cover art, the words say, “Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.”
Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.

A Killer Summer Camp

Ajay Andersen has discovered a Zero Day error (as in, you have “zero days” to fix it once it’s uncovered) in his granddaughter Kylie’s biotech internal computer. He’s devised a patch – but it goes farther than he told Kylie, and suppresses more of her tech interface than she wants. Will it disable her capabilities just when she needs them the most?

She’s heading to summer camp with her friend Austin, but this camp is clearly different from the norm. The Pine Fortress Camp for the Gifted says it teaches “survival” to children of wealthy parents. Grandpa Ajay has a lot of misgivings, especially after he witnesses an assassination attempt on one of the camp staff.

But Kylie’s big sister Isabelle, who is using her own unique capabilities to quickly climb the ranks in the mercenary powerhouse, Frontier Arms, wants her to go. Kylie and Austin do go, but all the lessons seem designed to turn them into assassins or mercenary leaders. What secret lurks behind this camp? What is Isabelle’s game? And what will Ajay do about it? This fourth book in the Old Code series keeps the twists, turns, and double-crosses coming, right up till the cataclysmic finish.

The silhouettes of a young woman and a slender man in a hat and coat, holding a cane, anchor the lower center of this cover, and the larger square design. They walk through a hummocky field toward a classic-style barn with a silo and a small outbuilding to the left, all with snowy roofs. Above to the right and left of them hover two drones. The picture is mostly dark and light turquoise, black and white. The two drones have pale yellow headlights. The words on the cover are gold-colored. They say, “GRANDFATHER CRYPTO. ANTHONY W. EICHENLAUB.” Underneath the cover art, the words say, “Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.”
Cover courtesy of Amazon.com.

A Shockingly Unanticipated – but Sort of Inevitable – Conclusion.

Ajay Anderson isn’t much of an art-lover, but this “special exhibit” of Russian art is one he feels reluctantly obligated to attend. He’s brought along his girlfriend Kate and his granddaughter Kylie. They’re there at the behest of Ajay’s old frenemy Olexie, whom we’ve met in earlier books – perhaps to stop an art heist, or perhaps to commit one?

Kate’s a retired farmer – but she’s also more than she seems. And right now her old handler, “Black,” has shoved himself back into her life. And it seems a veritable who’s who of shady characters has converged on this exhibition hall. An ambitious local sheriff running for governor. A wizened Russian oligarch, flanked by enormous goons. And a pair of film documentarians.

They become more than just people whose cameras they’d rather dodge, however, when a shockingly violent heist attempt actually does begin. Subtlety is not in their vocabulary, but explosives and automatic gunfire are. As well as blowing out the back of the museum. But that’s only the opening act. When events place a masterpiece of avant-garde Russian artwork in Ajay’s hands, he discovers it’s also a deceptively clever piece of technology that offers a cutting-edge insight into what a different world of the future could hold. Eichenlaub’s book careens through the snowy January landscape of Minnesota and hurtles to a conclusion of the Old Code series that is both resoundingly unanticipated . . . and also sort of inevitable. It’s a heart-pounding finish to an excellent techno-thriller cycle.

The five covers of the books in the “Old Code” series, by Anthony W. Eichenlaub, are arrayed across this square image in two rows. On the upper row, L-R. are the covers of “Grandfather Anonymous,” “Grandfather Ghost,” and “Grandfather Guardian.” On the lower row, L-R, are the covers of “Grandfather Zero” and “Grandfather Crypto.” The covers are monochromatic blue, turquoise, or purple. A single slender man with a hat and cane anchors the first three covers. He is joined by a young woman in the latter two. All covers are courtesy of Amazon.com.
Covers courtesy of Amazon.com.

The Old Code Series Makes for Excellent Reading

I discovered the first book in this series, Grandfather Anonymous, through a BookBub newsletter listing. It sounded interesting and they were practically giving it away, so I thought, “why not?” I don’t normally find “hacker” stories all that intrinsically interesting. But I’m an old gal who hopes she still has her skills, so the idea of an old guy who still has his skills was personally appealing.

Within the first page I was engaged, and the quality of the reading experience remained consistent throughout. I’m glad I found this series for many reasons – but the most fundamental of them is that the Old Code series delivers the goods from start to finish.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of reviews, and I hope maybe you’ll even look around for a copy of one or more of them.

About the Author

Author Jan S. Gephardt is a longtime science fiction reader, as well as a science fiction novelist. She is the author of the XK9 Series, including the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. The third book in the trilogy, Bone of Contention, is set for release September 24, 2024.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Amazon for these cover images, which represent the ebook covers for this series. See Grandfather Anonymous, Grandfather Ghost, Grandfather Guardian, Grandfather Zero, and Grandfather Crypto. These covers reflect the look of the ebook editions.

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