Perfect for fans of Sarah Sundin’s books.
It was a particularly trying afternoon. We had canned so much spaghetti sauce from the abundant harvest of tomatoes. The knowledge that my husband goes back to seminary school in just a few short days weighed on my heart as I reflected on what life will look like again for us in the coming months. The beautiful change in the weather that gives a hint of the fall season just around the corner. The dishes were piled so high we couldn’t see any counter space. And if another kid asked if there was a pair of clean socks in the house, I was going to drop and cry. This may not have been the right time to pick up The Cryptographer’s Dilemma, but it was the right time for this tired mom.
My friend and I have been slowly working through another World War 2 novel and texting back and forth, but like everything else that day, the kindle was no where to be found in all the chaos. So I picked this one up… and while I did find it to have a slow start, it provided the perfect few hours I needed to rest and enjoy a pick me up. Eloise is a down to earth kind of character that you just latch on too and declare a literary friend; and that day, I needed a friend.
The Cryptographer’s Dilemma was a delightful read. I really appreciated the length that this book is. The author Johnnie Alexander did a marvelous job in creating content that didn’t drag out or feel to rushed, something I always imagined to be a difficult way to approach writing. So I just wanted to point that out, if you are a busy reader, this may be a perfect fit to sneak into that down time where you have just a few short minutes. This is not a novella, it is slightly over 250 pages.
In so far as the plot, I enjoyed how Alexander managed to give a few different points of view to intrigue us with its mystery. I was invested to see how all the little things would tie up into a complete package at the end of the story, and I was not disappointed.
This is the perfect book to read as a pick me up! I will be reading the rest in this series!
This book is on tour with Celebrate Lit I was given a free copy in exchange for a full and honest review. All thoughts are my own.
About the Book
Author: Johnnie Alexander
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Release date: August, 2021
A Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts Writers Chat, and interviews other inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.
More from Johnnie
American Traitor in WWII
Not all secret messages involve substitution codes where random letters and numbers replace the original letters and numbers. Velvalee Dickinson, a doll collector who owned a doll shop on Madison Avenue in New York City, used jargon code to pass along information to the Japanese about the U.S. ships that had been damaged at Pearl Harbor.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the letters (as originally written):
The only new dolls I have are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls. One of these three dolls is an old Fisherman with a Net over his back—another is an old woman with wood on her back and the third is a little boy….I can only think of our sick boy these days. You wrote me that you had sent a letter to Mr. Shaw, well I want to see MR. SHAW he distroyed Your letter, you know he has been Ill. His car was damaged but is being repaired now. I saw a few of his family about. They all say Mr. Shaw will be back to work soon.
Velvalee, who the FBI nicknamed The Doll Woman, wrote this letter on her Underwood typewriter. She used the return address and forged the signature of one of her regular customers, Mary Wallace of Springfield, Ohio. Then Velvalee mailed the letter to an address in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Unknown to Velvalee, the Japanese had abandoned the Buenos Aires address as a drop point. The letter was marked “return to sender.” When Mrs. Wallace received it, she turned it in to the Post Office Director in Springfield who passed it along to the FBI.
Cryptographers determined that the letter was written in jargon code. To the casual reader, the letter is about dolls. But the intended recipient would have understood it’s about much more than that.
In this example, only one of five letters given to the FBI between February and August of 1942,
cryptographers decoded the message as follows:
- Old Fisherman with a Net over his back ~ refers to an aircraft carrier which has anti-torpedo nettings on its sides.
- Old woman with wood on her back ~ refers to an older battleship, one made of wood.
- A little boy plus our sick boy ~ a damaged ship.
Cryptographers believed that the words Mr. Shaw and Your were purposely capitalized and that the word distroyed was purposely misspelled to draw attention to them. Mr. Shaw referred to the USS Shaw, a destroyer (distroy + your = destroyer).
The remainder of the letter says Mr. Shaw is ill but “will be back to work soon.”
The ship was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. As the heroine in The Cryptographer’s Dilemma explains, “About two weeks before this letter was written, it [the USS Shaw] was undergoing repairs in San Francisco.”
In the novel, Eloise Marshall is a naval cryptographer who teams up with FBI agent Phillip Clayton, to find the person responsible for forging the signatures on the letters. Their search takes them from Washington, DC to the Springfield, Ohio, to the west coast and back again. On their journey, Eloise will confront an unexpected specter from her past and Phillip will risk his life to save hers.
Life of Literature, August 25
Where Faith and Books Meet, August 25
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 25
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 26
Reflections From my Bookshelves, August 26
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 27
Bizwings Blog, August 27
Daysong Reflections, August 27
Texas Book-aholic, August 28
A Baker’s Perspective, August 28
Inklings and notions, August 29
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 29
For Him and My Family, August 30
Simple Harvest Reads, August 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Older & Smarter?, August 31
Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 31
Aryn the Libraryan 📚, September 1
Rebecca Tews, September 1
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 2
deb’s Book Review, September 2
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 3
Blossoms and Blessings, September 3
Mary Hake, September 3
Connie’s History Classroom, September 4
A Good Book and Cup of Tea, September 4
Sodbusterliving, September 4
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 5
Labor Not in Vain, September 5
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 6
Moments, September 6
Splashes of Joy, September 6
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 7
Pause for Tales, September 7
To celebrate her tour, Johnnie is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.