Cover Image: The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

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Member Reviews

Mystery, intrigue, and a look at what a cryptographer does makes for an interesting read.
I enjoyed The Cryptographer's Dilemma but I was expecting more from it. I have not read anything by Johnnie Alexander before, so I was not sure what to expect from her writing. However, from the synopsis of the book, I expected more mystery and more involvement from the Japanese consulate. 

The story was a slow build and moved at a steady pace. I enjoyed the friendship that developed between Eloise and Philip, and the bit of mystery. I found it interesting to learn that the story was based on a true "doll" lady and appreciated the author's research and attention to detail in the telling of the story.

There were a few disconnects as well. The point of view is third person so you do not actually feel what the characters are thinking or feeling, you are told. This makes it harder to connect to the characters and the story. There felt like too many things in the story without enough clear resolution to them all. I do not want to give spoilers but felt in some ways there needed to be more (dialogue and feelings) and less of other things.

I think historical fans will enjoy reading this glimpse into a cryptographer's job during WWII.

Thank you to Net Galley and Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I've read some truly exceptional books about the cryptographers of WWI and WWII, so the title of this book definitely caught my eye. It's inspired by true events, which intrigued me so I looked up the real story of Velvalee Dickinson online. I can't decide if she was smart or stupid, or both. It's definitely an interesting chapter in WWII history. 

I'm sure many people will enjoy this story, but it fell a little short of what I expected. I was disappointed that the cryptographer's role in solving the mystery was fairly minor. She did help with the investigation of course but her skills as a cryptographer weren't needed very much. I'm not convinced they needed a cryptographer for the FBI investigation, but for the sake of the romance they had to haul her along or how else would Phillip and Eloise get together? The feeling of suspense builds as Phillip and Eloise chase down a traitorous spy. 

This work of fiction is a decent story, well-written and it's clean.
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What did I like? 

I liked the relational components of the main characters. I think the uncle is my favorite. I like that this story is based on real life events. The author did a great job carrying the facts of the true story with her story; she did not change much to make it work together. 

What was a challenge?

I expected more of a dilemma from "The Crypotgrapher's Dilemma." Honestly, I can't really tell you what her dilemma was. There were a couple different names used for the protagonist and I felt like it took away from the story. If you're familiar with Ted Dekker and his "fictive bubble," this book popped that bubble multiple times; there were a few times where I stopped and had to ask what was going on or who someone was or why something was happening. I read a lot of books and when I tried to think back on the books that I read this last month, I had a really hard time remembering this one; it just didn't stand out. 

I really wanted to like this book. Perhaps some of it was that I came off recently reading another novel of WWII cryptography that was amazing...and this one just didn't hit the mark for me.
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From the synopsis I expected a lot more excitement, danger and thrill. And though there was some mystery and intrigue, this story started very slow and I almost put it aside until an emotional event for Eloise grabbed my I intention.

I did not know this story was based on a true event. I think the author did a good job with mixing fictional characters and a story but keeping to the facts of the true story.

This is the first of a new series by Barbour Books which I am looking forward to.

This was a new-to-me-author and an enjoyable introduction to this author.
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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?

This was a very interesting book.  Eloise is doing work that not many women of her time were allowed to do.  Women weren't even thought capable of doing decoding.  Phillip Clayton is an FBI agent who wants nothing more than to enlist and get into the fighting overseas.  His superior has another mission for him to do.  When Phillip finds out he is expected to work with a woman, he is not happy.  As Eloise and Phillip travel across country to search for answers to codes being shipped with dolls, he realizes that she is an asset to his investigation.  

This book is a mystery.  But I wouldn't class it as a suspense or thriller.  I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it.

I was given this book by Barbour Publishing via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any way.
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First sentence: Green or brown. Brown or green. Phillip Clayton set the unwrapped crayon upright on the diner's Formica tabletop so it stood like a mocking sentinel. 

Premise/plot: While much of Johnnie Alexander's The Cryptographer's Dilemma is fictional, it is loosely based on a real case: The Doll Woman (Velvalee Dickinson). Phillip Clayton (our hero) and Eloise Marshall (our heroine) are FBI agents tracking down a potential traitor to the United States of America. The year is 1942. Eloise is new to the agency, she's a code breaker. She's paired with Phillip Clayton--a man with much more experience, all classified, of course. The two will pose as brother and sister and travel the country together. They've got a mystery to solve....

My thoughts: I found this a compelling read. At the time I started the novel, I didn't know the Doll Woman was real. I was just enjoying it for what it was: historical romance with a strong mystery element set during one of my favorite historical periods to read about. The characters are developed nicely. The romance isn't rushed. The pace is strong and steady. It has its melodramatic moments near the end, but, all in all I enjoyed it.

The Doll Woman received money from the Japanese government in exchange for information about American ships damaged at Pearl Harbor and our shipyards on the West Coast.
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Set in Washington DC in 1942, cryptographer, Eloise Marshall, is mourning the death of her brother who was killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  She wishes there is more that she could do to help the war effort.  FBI Agent Phillip Clayton wants to enlist but his color blindness precludes this.  When the FBI discovers a possible spy who is relaying messages to the Japanese via code messages about dolls, Phillip and Eloise are asked to join forces to find the spy.  

Full of twists, turns, coded messages, doll collectors, and doll sellers, Eloise and Phillip traveled throughout the US as brother and sister following leads.  Alexander kept my interest from start to finish as I learned about doll collecting as well as how coded messages could be so misleading unless you understood the various codes.  Eloise was so knowledgeable about codes and her instincts were so spot on when she read something and immediately realized how it had been coded.  I thoroughly enjoyed following Phillip and Eloise across the US as they followed leads and discovered new information until they finally cracked the case.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book  from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
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I love historical fiction, especially when the basis of the story is an actual event. The Cryptographer's Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander is just such a story, and I enjoyed it a lot. While Eloise and Phillip are fictional characters, the WWII FBI case of a traitor named the Doll Woman is true. Alexander has written a fascinating story of an FBI agent and a civilian code-breaker on a cross-country chase to track down the woman who has sent seemingly encoded letters. Eloise and Phillip have their individual issues to deal with, and as the adventure continues and the mystery deepens, there might be a bit of romance to add to the mix. Suspense, historical details, realistic and relatable characters, and twists to the plot all keep the pages turning. Readers who like to read historical fiction will not want to miss The Cryptographer's Dilemma.
I was given a complimentary copy of the book from Barbour Publishing and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
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Barbour Publishing presents another book in its series of mysteries based on true events that can be further researched on-line or using the references mentioned in the epilogue. . This plot surrounds a Doll Collector whose Boston store served as the focal point for a spy that sought to provide Japan critical information following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The story centers on one of the Code Girls, whose primary task was to decrypt messages intercepted from the German and Japanese. Eloise Marshall was “drafted” by the FBI to work alongside Phillip Clayton, a colorblind FBI agent who was not qualified to serve in the Air Corp. Together they were assigned the job of identifying the source of several letters that alluded to troop movements within the US Armed Services. The work would take them across the country - from Washington DC to Seattle WA and several places in between.

This reader was intrigued - not only by the story, but by the events that served as the catalyst for the book. More than once on-line sources were consulted providing more depth to the story as additional details of this WWII traitor were revealed. The author has provided an attention-keeping story rooted in history. I give the book five stars.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
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I hope the rest of the books in this new series of WWll heroines are as great as this one.  I love that I got to learn about a spy I had never heard of from WWll.  I loved the characters and the romance and the intrigue.  Eloise and Phillip both grow during this case.  This story made me look up the real Doll woman to see how she was really captured.  Very enjoyable.  I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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The premise of the book was a great one and I know the author did a ton of research for this story. It is based on true events. The story has great character development and is well detailed.

Pub Date: 01 Aug 2021
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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The premise was interesting, but as somebody who does not typically read Christian Fiction, the inferences to religion started to take away from the story.
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The Cryptographer’s Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander starts the new exciting Heroines of WWII. I have an interest in reading historical fiction that focuses on the World War II. This one does not disappoint. I enjoyed getting to know Eloise and loved her strength and determination to solve a mystery. The story is based on true events that I found intriguing and wanted to find out more about that. There is suspense, adventure, danger, and romance. I thought it was a pretty good book.

I am giving The Cryptographer’s Dilemma four and a half stars. I recommend it for readers who enjoy reading clean historical fiction. I look forward to reading the next installment from the Heroines of WWII series, Liz Tolsma‘s A Picture of Hope.
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I really enjoyed this first edition in the WWII heroine series. While the hero and heroine were fictitious, the story is based on a real FBI investigation during the war. I absolutely loved the idea of teacher turned codebreaker serving with the FBI fascinating. The author has written a fast-paced story, with a realistic hero and heroine, a little bit of romance, little bit of family secrets and a wonderful mystery to keep me turning the pages. I think this particular story could have benefited from a longer format that would tie up a few loose storylines, but I found it enjoyable and plan on reading more books by this author in the future.

I received an advanced review copy from the author via Barbour Fiction and NetGalley. I was not required to write a review and the opinions expressed here are my own.
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Fans of Roseanna M. White's World War II books will love this well-written story by Johnnie Alexander. FBI Agent Phillip Clayton is frustrated that his color blindness has prevented him from joining the Air Force, and isn't satisfied to remain stateside as other young men are overseas fighting. Eloise Marshall, grieving over her brother's death at Pearl Harbor, was recruited as a cryptographer for the Navy. She was happy to serve in her brother's stead, but could not resist the challenge involved in accepting the transfer being offered by the FBI, an offer to break codes and track down a possible traitor who is feeding information to the nation's enemies. I was intrigued to find out in the author's notes that the story is based on a true FBI investigation. The author was careful to tell which aspects of the story were fictionalized. She skillfully combined the real and the imagined to create a compelling and highly entertaining tale. 

I am grateful to have received a complementary copy of The Cryptographer's Dilemma from Barbour Publishing without obligation. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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2.5 stars
Honestly, the story was a disappointment to me. I've previously enjoyed Alexander's contemporary books and was very excited to read a WW2 novel from her. However, I never got to bond with either of these characters because too many things simply didn't make sense. Early on it said she lived with her mother in the city but then that apparently was in some long former life? This is an example of numerous disconnects in plot points.

The POV is limited third-person but the story isn't candid about what the characters are really thinking and feeling. She has a major emotional breakdown but we aren't even told why--just told that something in the paper has wrecked her. This sort of story-telling is my least favorite because it's like they're government agents finding things out and just leaking bits and pieces to the press but we aren't actually there with them finding things out.

The doll lady was an interesting issue but honestly it didn't come up until halfway through the book. This left the plot feeling a bit unbalanced because so much led up to the clue and then there were sudden scenes in her POV. I'd have much preferred leaving out her POV and getting more of the clues that the two leads were following. In such a short novel, too many POVs is a risky business, and in this case since the two leads were distant, the third POV was enough to push it over the edge into choppiness.

Overall, I felt like it tried to be too many things at once (including a side plot of a family drama moment) and ultimately failed in the immersive experience I look for in a novel simply because there was too much going on at once, which resulted in a lot of telling and not enough showing.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free reading copy. A favorable review was not required.
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Brimming with suspense, mystery, romance, and exquisite detail, Johnnie Alexander’s latest WWII offering is sure to please fans of Christian historical fiction.

I absolutely loved this book! The era, the settings, the characters… it was all pitch perfect. Incorporating true events from the Second World War and combining them with the romance of two hurting souls results in a page-turning novel you won’t want to miss.

Eloise was such a fun heroine to read about. She’s incredibly smart and gifted and quite analytical. Yet she also has a fun side, making her a very balanced character. In the beginning, I wasn’t so sure about Phillip, thinking him to be a bit of a hot-head. It is to be understood, though, given his frustration from not being able to contribute to the war the way he wanted to. Yet as the story unfolds, we see another side of him, and you soon forget the chip he had on his shoulder. Reading about these two working undercover and traveling across the country together in search of the Doll Woman was such a treat. Alexander masters the art of vintage romance in this story.

It is obvious that this book was meticulously researched, creating an authentic WWII setting. It was fascinating to read about the codebreakers, as well the search for the Doll Woman. When you add in all the details of classic ‘40s movies and actors, period clothing, and the bits of everyday life from that time, you are given a top notch reading experience.

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma is a fantastic read. Those who love war-time novels with plenty of suspense and romance will definitely want to read this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Johnnie Alexander is an amazing writer, who has some wonderful original works. This is an interesting and well written novel tackling a WWII mystery and a friendship turned love story. The characters are likable and engaging. I enjoyed finding out that it is based on true events.
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In 1942 Phillip Clayton, who was rejected by the military and Eloise Marshall, a cryptographer for the FBI, team up to investigate an odd series of letters. The cryptic letters contain messages that will reveal a WWII traitor. Based on historical events, travel with them across the U.S. and uncover events that will surprise and shock you as they seek out the culprit. This was my first book by Johnnie Alexander and I had never heard of Velvalee Dickinson, but he put the story together in such a way that it held my interest from beginning to end. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
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Are you willing to take a risk? After all, a coincidence is never a coincidence.

Many cryptographers were used in WWII in an effort to stay ahead of the enemy. After all, knowing what they planned before it could be put into operation would likely save thousands of lives. Even if it were only a few, it was still worth it! Eloise Marshall was one of these very talented people who could take what looked like gibberish to the average person and find the message hidden within. Because of her skill, this naval code breaker was approached for an undercover mission with the FBI.

Steganography was a way to send information that looked totally innocent to everyone except the one that had the code. But what information is being disseminated and what does this mean to national security? Agent Philip Clayton and Eloise are tasked with breaking this code, but will they survive to find the answers?

This book grabbed my attention immediately and held it all the way through. The detail and well developed characters made it a most fascinating read. An ARC of this Heroines of WWII was received through Barbour Publishing and NetGalley. The impressions and comments made are my own and were in no way solicited.
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