Cover Image: The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for allowing me to read an ARC ebook of The Cryptographer’s Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander.  As an avid WW2 historical fiction fan, I loved that this book focused on the war effort on US soil and a female cryptologist was a main character.  Eloise Marshall worked for the US Navy as a cryptologist in Washington, DC and was recruited and trained by the FBI for a special mission.  She joined FBI agent Phillip Clayton on a journey around the US by train, plane, and car to gather information and evidence to find and arrest a traitor to the war effort on US soil. The FBI needed a female agent for this mission as it involved doll collecting and only male agents were not going to get the results.  In the 1940s, doll collecting was a women’s area only.  Eloise was able to use her skills in cryptology to help decode and decipher content of letters confiscated by the FBI.  There were a few surprises on the journey for Eloise and Phillip.  I liked how their relationship changed through the book. The story moved along at a comfortable place and there were not excessive details or dialogue to slow you down.  The number of characters was manageable, and I didn’t need to take notes on all the characters and family details.  This is a shorter historical fiction book than others that I have read (so it was a quick read) but that left me looking for more details about the characters and their personal plot lines.  It is not that type of WW2 book - it is not an expansive, epic book.  This was a very clean book – no objectionable language or sex involved. There was some smoking but that was typical of the time period. There was minimal use of hand guns. There were numerous references to God and scripture.  If this is good for you, enjoy the book.  It was almost a turn off for me but that is my personal choice.  Overall, if you want a short, good, WW2 book, give this one a read!!  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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3 Reasons to read The Cryptopgrapher's Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander:

1. While Eloise's character is fictional, the story is based on a real FBI investigation of a woman who sold information to the Japanese government during WWII. It's unusual to find a WWII novel set entirely in the United States and interesting to read about the changes the war brought and how service-aged men who remained back were treated. 

2. Eloise and Phillip have real chemistry! Initially, Agent Phillip Clayton behaved petulantly when directed to take a civilian code-breaker along to investigate a series of suspicious letters. Eloise, on the other hand, was up to the challenge and undaunted by his estimation of her skill. Before long, he acknowledges her abilities and in time, begins to admire her for her tenacity, intelligence, and beauty. I really enjoyed how the author built their professional partnership into something more. 

3. Due to the nature of the case, the characters are always on the move. The constant need to collect or process information kept the plot advancing at a nice clip. 

This story was a real treat! Readers who enjoyed Roseanna M. White's The Number of Love or Sarah Sundin's The Sea Before Us will love this book. Highly recommend.
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Based on the FBI's investigation of the Doll Woman, who sold secrets to the Japenese. This story is about a cryptographer, Eloise, and Philip an investigator for the FBI, who are sent on a mission to decode letters sent by the Doll Woman. They travel across the country to unravel the source of the letters and the women who were named as the senders. Each wrestles with their place in the war and the losses suffered because of it. I really enjoyed this story!
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