About the Book
Book: The Cryptographer’s Dilemma
Author: Johnnie Alexander
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Release date: August, 2021
Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring
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?
The Cryptographer's Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander is a World War
II novel focused on studying of codes and secrets. With the heroine's
experience and brainpower. She is tossed into a world of secrets and even more
daring adventures than she bargained for. While the chase to find the hidden
message behind the Doll letters, the heroine and hero find romance as they try
to work together and work hard to solve the mystery. The World War II world
sounds familiar, even a little chiche at times. Sometimes, I felt like the
World War II scenery was not that important that I forgot I was chasing someone
who was giving away our nations secrets through these letters. The ending scene
where the climactic moment occurred was very unclimactic too. Here is the
horrible elements leading up to it. Here is the ultimate showdown. Oops! Story
over. Wait! Backtrack. Did I miss something? After reading the ending for the
second time, I did see the moments, but it was not all it was cracked up to be.
Overall, The Cryptographer's Dilemma
started out pretty interesting, and I could not wait to see what happened, but
as the story progressed, the stroy and moments fell flat to me.
I received a
complimentary copy of The Cryptographer's
Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander published by Barbour Publishing through
Celebrate Lit. Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase The Cryptographer's Dilemma
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.
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