×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Digital Fortress
     

Digital Fortress

3.8 302
by Dan Brown
 

See All Formats & Editions

A thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code.

Overview

A thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In this fast-paced, plausible tale, Brown blurs the line between good and evil enough to delight patriots and paranoids alike.” —Publishers Weekly

Digital Fortress is the best and most realistic techno-thriller to reach the market in years... A chilling thrill a minute.” —The Midwest Book Review

Digital Fortress is smart and reads with all the pace of a hit movie.” —Larry Lasker, Screenwriter, Wargames and Sneakers

“Exciting...will rivet cyber-minded readers.” —Booklist

"A disturbing, cutting-edge techno thriller that should galvanize everyone who sends or receives email or even dreams of navigating the Web."—John J. Nance, author of Pandora's Clock, The Last Hostage

“Brown isn’t just a novelist; he’s a crossover pop culture sensation"—The Boston Globe

"A master of the breathless, puzzle-driven thriller.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“What Brown does in a way that appeals to millions of people around the world is tell stories that remind us there’s more to the world than meets the eye.”—The Huffington Post

"Dan Brown is the master of the intellectual cliffhanger." —The Wall Street Journal

#1 New York Times bestselling author NELSON DeMILLE
Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius.
#1 New York Times bestselling author CLIVE CUSSLER
Intrigue and menace mingle in one of the finest mysteries I've ever read. An amazing tale with enigma piled on secrets stacked on riddles.
The Boston Globe
The Da Vinci Code is a dazzling performance by Brown, a delightful display of erudition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312335168
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
05/15/2004
Edition description:
Second Edition, Revised Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.47(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.31(d)

Read an Excerpt

Digital Fortress

A Thriller


By Dan Brown

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1998 Dan Brown
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0230-4


CHAPTER 1

They were in the Smoky Mountains at their favorite bed-and-breakfast. David was smiling down at her. "What do you say, gorgeous? Marry me?"

Looking up from their canopy bed, she knew he was the one. Forever. As she stared into his deep-green eyes, somewhere in the distance a deafening bell began to ring. It was pulling him away. She reached for him, but her arms clutched empty air.

It was the sound of the phone that fully awoke Susan Fletcher from her dream. She gasped, sat up in bed, and fumbled for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Susan, it's David. Did I wake you?"

She smiled, rolling over in bed. "I was just dreaming of you. Come over and play."

He laughed. "It's still dark out."

"Mmm." She moaned sensuously. "Then definitely come over and play. We can sleep in before we head north."

David let out a frustrated sigh. "That's why I'm calling. It's about our trip. I've got to postpone."

Susan was suddenly wide awake. "What!"

"I'm sorry. I've got to leave town. I'll be back by tomorrow. We can head up first thing in the morning. We'll still have two days."

"But I made reservations," Susan said, hurt. "I got our old room at Stone Manor."

"I know, but —"

"Tonight was supposed to be special — to celebrate six months. You do remember we're engaged, don't you?"

"Susan." He sighed. "I really can't go into it now, they've got a car waiting. I'll call you from the plane and explain everything."

"Plane?" she repeated. "What's going on? Why would the university ...?"

"It's not the university. I'll phone and explain later. I've really got to go; they're calling for me. I'll be in touch. I promise."

"David!" she cried. "What's —"

But it was too late. David had hung up.

Susan Fletcher lay awake for hours waiting for him to call back. The phone never rang.


Later that afternoon Susan sat dejected in the tub. She submerged herself in the soapy water and tried to forget Stone Manor and the Smoky Mountains. Where could he be? she wondered. Why hasn't he called?

Gradually the water around her went from hot to lukewarm and finally to cold. She was about to get out when her cordless phone buzzed to life. Susan bolted upright, sloshing water on the floor as she grappled for the receiver she'd left on the sink.

"David?"

"It's Strathmore," the voice replied.

Susan slumped. "Oh." She was unable to hide her disappointment. "Good afternoon, Commander."

"Hoping for a younger man?" The voice chuckled.

"No, sir," Susan said, embarrassed. "It's not how it —"

"Sure it is." He laughed. "David Becker's a good man. Don't ever lose him."

"Thank you, sir."

The commander's voice turned suddenly stern. "Susan, I'm calling because I need you in here. Pronto."

She tried to focus. "It's Saturday, sir. We don't usually —"

"I know," he said calmly. "It's an emergency."

Susan sat up. Emergency? She had never heard the word cross Commander Strathmore's lips. An emergency? In Crypto? She couldn't imagine. "Y-yes, sir." She paused. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Make it sooner." Strathmore hung up.


Susan Fletcher stood wrapped in a towel and dripped on the neatly folded clothes she'd set out the night before — hiking shorts, a sweater for the cool mountain evenings, and the new lingerie she'd bought for the nights. Depressed, she went to her closet for a clean blouse and skirt. An emergency? In Crypto?

As she went downstairs, Susan wondered how the day could get much worse.

She was about to find out.

CHAPTER 2

Thirty thousand feet above a dead-calm ocean, David Becker stared miserably from the Learjet 60's small, oval window. He'd been told the phone on board was out of order, and he'd never had a chance to call Susan.

"What am I doing here?" he grumbled to himself. But the answer was simple — there were men to whom you just didn't say no.

"Mr. Becker," the loudspeaker crackled. "We'll be arriving in half an hour."

Becker nodded gloomily to the invisible voice. Wonderful. He pulled the shade and tried to sleep. But he could only think of her.

CHAPTER 3

Susan's Volvo sedan rolled to a stop in the shadow of the ten-foot-high, barbed Cyclone fence. A young guard placed his hand on the roof.

"ID, please."

Susan obliged and settled in for the usual half-minute wait. The officer ran her card through a computerized scanner. Finally he looked up. "Thank you, Ms. Fletcher." He gave an imperceptible sign, and the gate swung open.

Half a mile ahead Susan repeated the entire procedure at an equally imposing electrified fence. Come on, guys ... I've only been through here a million times.

As she approached the final checkpoint, a stocky sentry with two attack dogs and a machine gun glanced down at her license plate and waved her through. She followed Canine Road for another 250 yards and pulled into Employee Lot C. Unbelievable, she thought. Twenty-six thousand employees and a twelve-billion-dollar budget; you'd think they could make it through the weekend without me. Susan gunned the car into her reserved spot and killed the engine.

After crossing the landscaped terrace and entering the main building, she cleared two more internal checkpoints and finally arrived at the windowless tunnel that led to the new wing. A voice-scan booth blocked her entry.

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA)
CRYPTO FACILITY
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY

The armed guard looked up. "Afternoon, Ms. Fletcher."

Susan smiled tiredly. "Hi, John."

"Didn't expect you today."

"Yeah, me neither." She leaned toward the parabolic microphone. "Susan Fletcher," she stated clearly. The computer instantly confirmed the frequency concentrations in her voice, and the gate clicked open. She stepped through.


The guard admired Susan as she began her walk down the cement causeway. He noticed that her strong hazel eyes seemed distant today, but her cheeks had a flushed freshness, and her shoulder-length, auburn hair looked newly blown dry. Trailing her was the faint scent of Johnson's Baby Powder. His eyes fell the length of her slender torso — to her white blouse with the bra barely visible beneath, to her knee-length khaki skirt, and finally to her legs ... Susan Fletcher's legs.

Hard to imagine they support a 170 IQ, he mused to himself.

He stared after her a long time. Finally he shook his head as she disappeared in the distance.


As Susan reached the end of the tunnel, a circular, vaultlike door blocked her way. The enormous letters read: CRYPTO.

Sighing, she placed her hand inside the recessed cipher box and entered her five-digit PIN. Seconds later the twelve-ton slab of steel began to revolve. She tried to focus, but her thoughts reeled back to him.

David Becker. The only man she'd ever loved. The youngest full professor at Georgetown University and a brilliant foreign-language specialist, he was practically a celebrity in the world of academia. Born with an eidetic memory and a love of languages, he'd mastered six Asian dialects as well as Spanish, French, and Italian. His university lectures on etymology and linguistics were standing-room-only, and he invariably stayed late to answer a barrage of questions. He spoke with authority and enthusiasm, apparently oblivious to the adoring gazes of his star-struck coeds.

Becker was dark — a rugged, youthful thirty-five with sharp green eyes and a wit to match. His strong jaw and taut features reminded Susan of carved marble. Over six feet tall, Becker moved across a squash court faster than any of his colleagues could comprehend. After soundly beating his opponent, he would cool off by dousing his head in a drinking fountain and soaking his tuft of thick, black hair. Then, still dripping, he'd treat his opponent to a fruit shake and a bagel.

As with all young professors, David's university salary was modest. From time to time, when he needed to renew his squash club membership or restring his old Dunlop with gut, he earned extra money by doing translating work for government agencies in and around Washington. It was on one of those jobs that he'd met Susan.

It was a crisp morning during fall break when Becker returned from a morning jog to his three-room faculty apartment to find his answering machine blinking. He downed a quart of orange juice as he listened to the playback. The message was like many he received — a government agency requesting his translating services for a few hours later that morning. The only strange thing was that Becker had never heard of the organization.

"They're called the National Security Agency," Becker said, calling a few of his colleagues for background.

The reply was always the same. "You mean the National Security Council?"

Becker checked the message. "No. They said Agency. The NSA."

"Never heard of 'em."

Becker checked the GAO Directory, and it showed no listing either. Puzzled, Becker called one of his old squash buddies, an ex-political analyst turned research clerk at the Library of Congress. David was shocked by his friend's explanation.

Apparently, not only did the NSA exist, but it was considered one of the most influential government organizations in the world. It had been gathering global electronic intelligence data and protecting U.S. classified information for over half a century. Only 3 percent of Americans were even aware it existed.

"NSA," his buddy joked, "stands for 'No Such Agency.'"

With a mixture of apprehension and curiosity, Becker accepted the mysterious agency's offer. He drove the thirty-seven miles to their eighty-six-acre headquarters hidden discreetly in the wooded hills of Fort Meade, Maryland. After passing through endless security checks and being issued a six-hour, holographic guest pass, he was escorted to a plush research facility where he was told he would spend the afternoon providing "blind support" to the Cryptography Division — an elite group of mathematical brainiacs known as the code-breakers.

For the first hour, the cryptographers seemed unaware Becker was even there. They hovered around an enormous table and spoke a language Becker had never heard. They spoke of stream ciphers, self-decimated generators, knapsack variants, zero knowledge protocols, unicity points. Becker observed, lost. They scrawled symbols on graph paper, pored over computer printouts, and continuously referred to the jumble of text on the overhead projector.

Eventually one of them explained what Becker had already surmised. The scrambled text was a code — a "ciphertext" — groups of numbers and letters representing encrypted words. The cryptographers' job was to study the code and extract from it the original message, or "cleartext." The NSA had called Becker because they suspected the original message was written in Mandarin Chinese; he was to translate the symbols as the cryptographers decrypted them.

For two hours, Becker interpreted an endless stream of Mandarin symbols. But each time he gave them a translation, the cryptographers shook their heads in despair. Apparently the code was not making sense. Eager to help, Becker pointed out that all the characters they'd shown him had a common trait — they were also part of the Kanji language. Instantly the bustle in the room fell silent. The man in charge, a lanky chain-smoker named Morante, turned to Becker in disbelief.

"You mean these symbols have multiple meanings?"

Becker nodded. He explained that Kanji was a Japanese writing system based on modified Chinese characters. He'd been giving Mandarin translations because that's what they'd asked for.

"Jesus Christ." Morante coughed. "Let's try the Kanji."

Like magic, everything fell into place.

The cryptographers were duly impressed, but nonetheless, they still made Becker work on the characters out of sequence. "It's for your own safety," Morante said. "This way, you won't know what you're translating."

Becker laughed. Then he noticed nobody else was laughing.

When the code finally broke, Becker had no idea what dark secrets he'd helped reveal, but one thing was for certain — the NSA took code-breaking seriously; the check in Becker's pocket was more than an entire month's university salary.

On his way back out through the series of security checkpoints in the main corridor, Becker's exit was blocked by a guard hanging up a phone. "Mr. Becker, wait here, please."

"What's the problem?" Becker had not expected the meeting to take so long, and he was running late for his standing Saturday afternoon squash match.

The guard shrugged. "Head of Crypto wants a word. She's on her way out now."

"She?" Becker laughed. He had yet to see a female inside the NSA.

"Is that a problem for you?" a woman's voice asked from behind him.

Becker turned and immediately felt himself flush. He eyed the ID card on the woman's blouse. The head of the NSA's Cryptography Division was not only a woman, but an attractive woman at that.

"No," Becker fumbled. "I just ..."

"Susan Fletcher." The woman smiled, holding out her slender hand.

Becker took it. "David Becker."

"Congratulations, Mr. Becker. I hear you did a fine job today. Might I chat with you about it?"

Becker hesitated. "Actually, I'm in a bit of a rush at the moment." He hoped spurning the world's most powerful intelligence agency wasn't a foolish act, but his squash match started in forty-five minutes, and he had a reputation to uphold: David Becker was never late for squash ... class maybe, but never squash.

"I'll be brief." Susan Fletcher smiled. "Right this way, please."

Ten minutes later, Becker was in the NSA's commissary enjoying a popover and cranberry juice with the NSA's lovely head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher. It quickly became evident to David that the thirty-eight-year-old's high-ranking position at the NSA was no fluke — she was one of the brightest women he had ever met. As they discussed codes and code-breaking, Becker found himself struggling to keep up — a new and exciting experience for him.

An hour later, after Becker had obviously missed his squash match and Susan had blatantly ignored three pages on the intercom, both of them had to laugh. There they were, two highly analytical minds, presumably immune to irrational infatuations — but somehow, while they sat there discussing linguistic morphology and pseudo-random number generators, they felt like a couple of teenagers — everything was fireworks.

Susan never did get around to the real reason she'd wanted to speak to David Becker — to offer him a trial post in their Asiatic Cryptography Division. It was clear from the passion with which the young professor spoke about teaching that he would never leave the university. Susan decided not to ruin the mood by talking business. She felt like a schoolgirl all over again; nothing was going to spoil it. And nothing did.


* * *

Their courtship was slow and romantic — stolen escapes whenever their schedules permitted, long walks through the Georgetown campus, late-night cappuccinos at Merlutti's, occasional lectures and concerts. Susan found herself laughing more than she'd ever thought possible. It seemed there was nothing David couldn't twist into a joke. It was a welcome release from the intensity of her post at the NSA.

One crisp, autumn afternoon they sat in the bleachers watching Georgetown soccer get pummeled by Rutgers.

"What sport did you say you play?" Susan teased. "Zucchini?"

Becker groaned. "It's called squash."

She gave him a dumb look.

"It's like zucchini," he explained, "but the court's smaller."

Susan pushed him.

Georgetown's left wing sent a corner-kick sailing out of bounds, and a boo went up from the crowd. The defensemen hurried back downfield.

"How about you?" Becker asked. "Play any sports?"

"I'm a black belt in StairMaster."

Becker cringed. "I prefer sports you can win."

Susan smiled. "Overachiever, are we?"

Georgetown's star defenseman blocked a pass, and there was a communal cheer in the stands. Susan leaned over and whispered in David's ear. "Doctor."

He turned and eyed her, lost.

"Doctor," she repeated. "Say the first thing that comes to mind."

Becker looked doubtful. "Word associations?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. Copyright © 1998 Dan Brown. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including Digital Fortress, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, which has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling novels of all time. Named one of the World's 100 Most Influential People by TIME Magazine, he has appeared in the pages of Newsweek, Forbes, People, GQ, The New Yorker, and others. His novels are published in 51 languages around the world. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he also taught English. Digital Fortress was inspired by his experiences at the academy. He lives in New England with his wife.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New England
Date of Birth:
June 22, 1964
Place of Birth:
Exeter, New Hampshire
Education:
Phillips Exeter Academy 1982; B.A., Amherst College, 1986; University of Seville, Spain
Website:
http://www.danbrown.com

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Digital Fortress 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 302 reviews.
Papileal714 More than 1 year ago
The novel is ingenious in a way not many other books are. In most thrillers you would expect gunfights and bombs, although the fights in this book are not run that way. They are clever battles planned through precision that will make you want to read faster so that you know what will happen. From cathedrals and hospitals in Spain to buildings in Tokyo to top-dollar facilities in the US, the book will take you on an unforgettable ride. It is a web between several stories that are happening at the same time, making your reading experience even more intense. I have read the book once and I'm going for the second time already. Nevertheless, I am still anxious to be submerged into the mystical world Dan Brown has created every time I grab the book. I strongly recommend this book. If you like puzzles that are more than what is just written on paper, this is the book for you. The NSA is the most powerful intelligence agency in the world. It's mission to intercept and decipher computer algorithms in emails and such, so that terrorist can be intercepted before their attacks even come to light. They have already prevented 3 nuclear attacks, and dealt with thousands of terrorist threats. Without the NSA, the FBI, DEA and many other agencies that keep the world at peace would be worthless. The NSA finds itself in trouble when they learn about Ensei Tankado's new, unbreakable algorithm: Digital Fortress. Ensei Tankado was once one of the NSA's most brilliant cryptographers. Upon his discovery that the NSA was building a machine that could open and re-seal any email it wished to, he became outraged. Upon Commander Strathmore's refusal to abort the operation, Ensei quit his job in a fit of fury and swore that they would be sorry. A few months later, he holds the NSA hostage and possesses the world's most sophisticated algorithm. After the routine ID checks, finger scans and such, Susan Fletcher innocently arrives at the Scy-Sec lab only to encounter one of the rarest things she has ever seen in the NSA: Commander Strathmore's face of distress and anxiety. Even when nuclear attacks were on the border of execution, Commander Strathmore had never lost his face of confidence and determination. That day was different. TRANSLATR, a multi-billion dollar machine with three million processors that was capable of breaking sixty-four bit algorithms in a matter of seconds, had been running for sixteen hours straight. Digital Fortress was immune to the National Security Agency's mighty brain. Without TRANSLATR, terrorist would be able to chat and email with no worry of being spied on, and the US would be vulnerable to all imaginable attacks. In the meanwhile, David Becker, Susan's splendid husband, is in a corporate jet flying to Spain to assist solving the present dilemma. What he does not know is that he is in danger and is being closely watched and followed.
teacher-teach More than 1 year ago
I was hooked by this and couldn't put it down. Twists and turns, exciting technology, this fast paced book is great to read on a rainy day.
BigBookWorm More than 1 year ago
Another great plot and story by Dan Brown. He continues to really impress me with his ability to take facts and twist them creating these great stories. This book centers around code breaking and the NSA. Dan Brown loves to create these stories that not only keeps readers on the edge of their seats but also makes them mentally focus on the material at hand. This book kept me interested the entire time I read it and if you like mystery or fictional history you would definately like this book!!
Blandy More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was so-so. The book just never quite drew me in. I thought that Deception Point was a better book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I only opened the book once. Because when I closed the cover I was finished with the book. Excellent for any military/intelligence buffs.
1000_Character_Reviews More than 1 year ago
"Digital Fortress" starts out quickly and continues down a high-speed road of twists, turns and surprises. The basic premise is that a disgruntled former employee of the NSA has allegedly created an unbreakable encryption algorithm that he's threatening to release into the open - effectively rendering our anti-terrorism monitoring programs worthless. However, this man has died - and nobody knows who is now in control of this monster. More importantly...is this technology really what it appears to be? As a computer geek, I enjoyed the authentic technology described in the book (though some of it was a bit "off"). Brown does his usual great job of building suspense and gradually guiding the reader to the final solution - which is almost never what it seems. I'll admit...I guessed wrong on this one. It's a great read that you will burn through quickly (it's short book compared to some of his others). Not as good as his other books, but break into this "Digital Fortress"...you'll enjoy the results.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brown attempts to use the same format that was so successful in 'Angels and Demons' and 'The Da Vinci Code' but falls short. The plot is weak, the characters are underdeveloped, and it is a chore to even finish this book. I do not recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Techno-thrillers need to be well done and Brown has done that. As one who is in the computer world I find some of the assumtpions that underlie the story to be a little far fetched, but then again 15 years ago no one guessed what today would be like. There are enough potential bad guys to keep you guessing until nearly the end. For those who think the government is always 'up to something' this book will reinforce those feelings. Unfortuately, I can put names to many characters in this novel. That's what makes it more real.
History_and_Mystery More than 1 year ago
I will refrain from being verbose and keep this simple. I believe this was Dan Browns first thriller if I am not mistaken. Either this or 'Deception Point'. Anyway, this book is an excellent quick read and offers a solid thrill for the reader. It isnt 'Angels and Demons' but it is still worth reading, especially if you are a Dan Brown fan and want to have the complete collection for your library. -AKD
58tbird More than 1 year ago
Ok, I know this book was written before Angels and Demons, and Da Vinci Code so he is building his skills in this book. It is an interesting plot but the characters remind me of versions of his other famous characters and I was able to figure out the end before I got to it. I hate when that happens. It might have been because I read A & D, the Code, and Lost Symbol before reading Digi Fort, so it was easy to see where he was going with the story. I still hate senseless character terminations in any story, why do they have to kill off so many people for no reason. Dan Brown isn't the only writer guilty of that habit. All in all, if you like Dan Brown, you will probably like Digital Fortress, just know that it is not quite as sophisticated as Angels and Demons, the DaVinci Code or Lost Symbol. It was still a fairly enjoyable read, but I'll be reselling my copy, it won't remain in my permanent library.
Ben_Langston More than 1 year ago
Let it be known that Dan Brown Doesnt write unsatisfactory novels. That having been said, Digital Fortress is in my opinion still the weakest of his books. It is Thrilling enough to make up for the fact that its extremely confusing, especially the first time you read it, ive read it three times and it is a work of art, a fantastic novel in its own right.
Arleen1 More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book at my husband's request. He had read it and loved it, so I took his advice and started. At the beginning I thought I wouldn't be able to read it to the end because it is a bit technical and I got a little bit lost at times BUT, it came to the point when I desperately needed to know what was going to happen. Dan Brown did it one more time, he managed to keep me wanting more and needing to know more. Wonderful group of characters and very creative plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely predictable and I had to force myself to finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book was like watching a train wreck. The only reason I finished reading it was to confirm the ending I guessed at the mid-point of the novel. I almost called the publisher after finishing to demand my money back. The technical errors are glaring. If you're going to write a book like this, take five minutes to speak with a cryptologist and another five with a sysadmin to get your facts straight. What a disappointment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dan Brown has offered a peek into some very specialized and very frightening worlds. While providing a real computer thriller, something you simply can't put down, his writing takes you for a world tour, touching on three continents. His accuracy on techno-terms and world culture provides such realism that you will find your heart racing and your mind on two sides of some very important issue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago