Enigma was the name for an enciphering machine developed in the 1920s and later used by the Nazi military. If numbers and ciphers puzzle you, do not despair. Harris (Fatherland, LJ 4/1/92) effectively evokes the damp bleakness, the deprivation, and the anxiety of war-torn 1940s England. The hero of his novel, Tom, is a delicate, slightly effete young man but a mathematical genius. As the story opens, Tom has had a mental and physical breakdown from too many hours working at code breaking and not enough eating and sleeping. He is recuperating at Cambridge when his supervisor arrives to lure him back to the same punishing grind. The Enigma Codes have changed, and the good guys cannot find the deciphering key in time to save an extra-large convoy coming from America. There is love, a spy in their midst, and a few other red herrings to round out the mix. Definitely recommended.
-- Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills Public Library, Texas
In 1943, a group of Britain's finest mathematicians and cryptologists gathered secretly in pastoral Bletchley Park with the sole aim of decoding the incomprehensible German cipher, Enigma. Its use had confounded both British and American intelligence, because new, highly classified mechanical improvements within the cipher machine made it superior to any Allied instruments. Enter Tom Jericho, master cryptologist and code-breaker, recently recalled from a nervous breakdown and fractured romantic relationship, to troubleshoot British efforts to crack the code. In this tightly crafted story based on actual events, Harris succeeds in engaging readers by realistically portraying the environment of intrigue existing in wartime England. Jericho is a meek and sympathetic anti-hero, stinging from an unrequited relationship, still hopeful of reconciliation, who reluctantly realizes the possibility of his lover's betrayal of classified information. This novel's singular strength is Harris's ability to take a technologically complex concept and make it lucid and riveting reading. The plot moves apace, and the ending has an unexpected twist. World War II buffs will enjoy this challenging and satisfying tale.
-- Carol Beall, Immanuel Christian School, Springfield, VA
"After the stunning success of his first novel, Fatherland, the question was what would Robert Harris do for an encore? This is his ersounding answer." — Phillip Knightley, Mail on Sunday
"Extraordinarily good — and undoubtedly the best thriller of the year, and perhaps of several years to come." — T.J. Binyon, Evening Standard
"I finished the book regretful it had ended, and full of wonder at the extraordinary world, people and achievements it evoked." — David Cannadine, Observer
"Altogether top-class stuff" — Peter Millar, The Times
From the Paperback edition.