Burn Factor

Burn Factor

by Kyle Mills
Burn Factor

Burn Factor

by Kyle Mills



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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Vince Flynn

Bright, young, and ambitious, Quinn Barry desperately wants to be an FBI agent, even as she programs databases in the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. But Quinn's career -- and her life -- are about to change wildly. Testing a new program, Quinn's computer savvy turns up a mysterious DNA link among five gruesome murders. A link that the old FBI system had been carefully programmed to miss. A link that nearly costs Quinn her job, and soon, her life...Pitted against a conspiracy of unimaginable proportions, Quinn will match wits against powerful government forces that will use any means necessary to keep their dirty secrets hidden -- secrets that will land her in the clutches of a sadistic, brilliant madman who holds the key to it all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062030160
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/16/2010
Format: eBook
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 140,365
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kyle Mills is the author of Sphere of Influence, Burn Factor, Free Fall, Storming Heaven, and Rising Phoenix.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Quinn Barry glanced at her watch and grimaced. Only eleven-thirty in the morning and she was already on her fourth cup of heavily caffeinated tea and her fifteenth rice cake.

“So you're going to have it running today, then?”

Quinn jumped, knocking the last of the strawberry-flavored cakes from her carefully organized desk. It seemed to fall in slow motion, turning end over end before fatally impacting the floor.


“I didn't say that, Louis,” she said, turning in her chair. She could hear a hint of a southern accent creeping into her speech. No matter how much she practiced, it always seemed to come out when she was stressed. Or drunk. Louis Crater leaned forward a little, causing the lights in the ceiling to fluoresce on his bald head, but didn't look at her. Instead he stared at her computer screen with the stern expression that seemed to be his reaction to everything.

“Tomorrow?” he said, continuing to focus on the screen, though she knew the code filling it was complete Greek to him.

“Like I told you, I'm running a full-scale test on the Forensic Index today and I don't anticipate any problems . . .”

In her previous life as a corporate programming consultant, Quinn had dealt with people like this every day. And that, combined with the endless hours of solitude, dark cubicles, bottomless pots of coffee, and truckloads of junk food, was why she'd bagged programming a year and a half out of college.

She'd taken a support position at the FBI a few weeks later, hoping to learn the ins and outs of the organization and improve her chances of becoming an agent as soon as she was eligible.

“Soyou're saying tomorrow, then. Right, Quinn?”

About the same time Crater, the man in charge of the FBI's Combined DNA Index System and the man now hovering over her like a vulture in an updraft, had canned the private contractor maintaining the system in the face of budget cuts. Then, undoubtedly only moments later, he'd uttered those fateful words spoken by department heads to their bosses all over the world: “If we keep it in-house we can do a better job for less money.”

“Right, Louis. No problem.” Quinn sighed. So now she was pretty much right back where she'd started — reprogramming an enormous and convoluted computer database, but with a government paycheck that came in at about half her private-industry income.

“Well, I'm glad to hear that you're on track,” Crater said, rising again to his full six feet three inches while Quinn gnawed on what was left of her pencil's eraser. “Tell you what. Why don't we go grab a drink after work and you canfill me in on what you've done.”

Now, that sounded unpleasant. And if the code gnomes weren't asleep at the switch, it almost guaranteed a system-wide crash during her test.

“I'd like to, Louis, but I can't. I've got plans.”


“You know, I promised a friend of mine that I'd grab a bite with her,” Quinn said truthfully. “You're welcome to come along. It ought to be fun . . .”

He shook his head — a little angrily, she thought — and started walking back toward his office without another word. Bad. Very bad. Every time he left her desk, he seemed a little more teed off. As near as she could tell, everyone she'd ever worked for had two things in common: first, they heard only what they wanted to, and second, they always made impossible promises to their own bosses. Louis Crater's chances at career advancement hinged at least partially on this project getting done right and fast, while her own prospects hinged almost solely on his happiness. And what a rusty little hinge it was.

She centered herself in front of her keyboard again and took a deep breath. Fifteen minutes till lunch. If she hurried she could get the test routine running before she left.

“Guess who?”

It was fifteen minutes almost to the second when a pair of ring-laden hands covered her eyes, briefly blocking out the lines of code scrolling across the screen.

“Hi, Katie.” Quinn regained her vision again as her friend flopped into an empty chair. “What about lunch, babe? We still on?” Katie said, taking a brass paperweight from the desk and examining it with feigned interest. “Yeah, we're still on. I've just got to finish this one thing.” Katie leaned forward and tried to get a look at the computer screen. “Pac-Man?”

Quinn frowned deeply and began tapping commands into the computer again as her friend spun around in her chair like a hyperactive child. “I like the no-window look,” Katie said, motioning around her. “I've never been this far under the J. Edgar Hoover Building before. I always thought this was where they tortured suspects.”

Quinn shook her head but kept her attention focused on what she was doing.

“Nah. That's down the hall. This is where they torture the employees.”

“If you think it's any better on the fourth floor, you're crazy.” Katie leaned in a little closer. “Done yet? I'm starving over here.” “I've just got to get a search running so it'll be finished when I get back.”

“What are you searching for?”

“A good man.”

“Stop. You're killing me. Seriously.”


“What — you can't tell me? Like, it's top secret or something?”

Quinn slapped the enter key and rolled her chair back a foot or so, letting the computer digest the search parameters. “No, really. I'm serious. Do you know what the Forensic Index is?”

“Part of the DNA database, right?”

“I'm impressed. Actually, it's the section of the system that stores information on unsolved cases.

Like if a guy commits a crime in Michigan and leaves some blood or saliva or whatever there, his DNA signature would be entered into Michigan's police database, which would at some point then be uploaded to our central computer. Let's say someone left the same DNA at a crime in — oh, I don't know . . . California.

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