25 Years Before Bletchley Park, Code-breakers Gather
by Dominic Hayes
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 23 Feb 2020 | Archive Date 19 Oct 2021
THE ADMIRALTY, OCTOBER 1914
When Sir Alfred Ewing assembles a group of codebreakers in Room 40, expectations are high they will soon decipher enemy cables. But the team make little headway and the new Director of Intelligence, Captain 'Blinker’ Hall, is desperate for a solution.
As the Royal Navy reels with the defeat at Coronel, the two men clash. Hall will need all his cunning to bypass Ewing's obsession with secrecy and find the key before the next encounter at sea.
And when Germany’s foremost spy discovers the British are about to crack their codes, the Captain must prevent the knowledge reaching the Kaiser.
Who can he trust with the task when he is not only fighting the enemy but battling people on his own side?
The research is impeccable, the characters, although mainly all real people, are brilliantly realised and the story just rolls along at a relentless pace. I was so disappointed to get to the end, but only because I was so engrossed in the doings of British Naval Intelligence, and the race to decipher the German naval code in the early days of the First World War.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 7 members
While I’ve read a bunch of WWII books, I haven’t read much about WWI. This is rich with details and definitely a page-turner like the sticker says. The plot was multi-faceted and engaging throughout. It was nice to read historical fiction that isn't about women or romance. I like those too but this one was a refreshing change. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
Military history is a passion of mine, especially subjects surrounding the two world wars. A lot has been written about espionage, SOE, Bletchley Park etc. of WWII, less so regarding WWI, so the synopsis for this story really intrigued me & didn't disappoint. It's very easy to read, draws you in & has a ring of historical truth about it: someone who has done the research & sets the scene perfectly. (No matter how good the story, I will often switch off if an historical element is missed or feels wrong for the period.) The battle scene was particularly well done (Coronel) & knowing the history of the period, I was looking forward to the next battle in the south Atlantic, but this was told in hindsight, which was the only disappointment. The other issue is with the editing itself, not the story. i.e. a scene may be set in an office in The Admiralty, you start reading a new paragraph & the scene has moved to onboard ship, in the south Pacific without any delineation, which I found upset the rhythm of my reading. If you could add ********* or a sub-heading "London" to break up the scenes, it would make for a better reading experience. A really enjoyable, well-written story & I for one, would be interested in reading a sequel.
The author has a good imagination, and seemed to capture the historical feel pretty well. This is my kind of story, and I enjoyed this. I found it compelling. Recommended. Thanks for the free review copy!!
A reasonably interesting yarn based around the early days of British naval intelligence - the famed Room 40. The writing weaves together a fictional story with historical background facts, including the battle off Coronel and the later Battle of the Falkland Islands. The fictional story stretches credulity somewhat, but not enough to spoil the tale. it passed a pleasant few evenings reading and I wanted to see how the story ended, so I guess that tells us it was a perfectly reasonable novel.