The Devil to Pay
by Gary Blackwood
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Pub Date 02 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 30 Jul 2022
As the conflict in Vietnam heats up, Simon Hannay is pursuing his Masters in Comparative Literature at a Midwest university, teaching karate on the side and doing his best to avoid the draft. He's not overly excited about his thesis... until he stumbles upon an encrypted renaissance journal that's been hidden for decades in the rare book room.
Simon, who's been fascinated by codes and ciphers since he was a kid, convinces his advisor to let him use the mysterious codex as his thesis topic. But first he has to decipher it—and, as he soon learns, that's going to be a formidable task. To add to his problems, an unidentified rival he calls the Mystery Man is desperate to get his hands on the codex—so desperate that he ransacks Simon's apartment and even drugs and interrogates him and his advisor.
With the help of Gabriela, a Brazilian classmate, Simon finally hits upon the key to the cipher. Together they struggle to unravel and translate the text, which was penned by a 16th-century Portuguese fortune-hunter. In the process, they learn the secrets the codex contains, and why the Mystery Man is so determined to steal it.
A Note From the Publisher
"The Devil to Pay is a sweeping work of historical fiction and a thriller that involves the reader from start to finish."-Readers' Favorite (5 Star Review)
"Blackwood fills the canvas with the psychedelic colors of the sixties: anti-war protests, the draft, Agent Orange, the rise of karate culture, and the sexual objectification of women. Yet beneath this lies a mystery that will send chills up the spine of any respectable wordsmith-a secret text discovered in a library, a mysterious code, an ancient story from an exotic locale. The Devil to Pay offers you a devil's bargain you cannot refuse." -Philp Roy, author of the Submarine Outlaw series
"If watching grad student Simon Hannay struggle to break the secret code of an adventure-filled 16th century Portuguese codex while also trying to figure out who is going to such extreme lengths to stop him weren't reasons enough to read The Devil to Pay, there are also Simon's deepening feelings for his fellow code-breaker and his friends' efforts to deal with the challenges of the Vietnam-era draft... The details about karate and code-breaking are as fascinating to read as they are integral to the story." -Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest
"[Blackwood is] so good at bringing history to life... this will be a great addition to university reading lists. I learned lots from reading it... A great story with so many elements all thoughtfully woven together." -Jan L. Coates, author of A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk