Author: Dan Brown
First Published: 1998
Page Count: 430
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 3/5 Stars
It’s an entertaining thriller but doesn’t hold a candle to other books in Dan Brown’s roundhouse.
*Lacks Charm *Less Action
“Who will guard the guards?” Susan Fletcher, head cryptographer at the NSA, is called into work when the company’s invincible code-breaking machine fails to break a code. It turns out this same code could change the world and end the NSA if anyone were to find out about it. Not only must Susan try to save the agency, but the fate of the man she loves also relies on her breaking a seemingly unbreakable code.
I have finally nearly finished reading every Dan Brown book he’s written. I’ve been saving this one because it was Brown’s first book so I figured it should be pretty great if it put him on the map. I thought I had the story figured out. Susan has to keep the unbreakable code a secret and also figure out how to break it. Meanwhile her fiance, David, must find a key piece of the puzzle that will help solve the code. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the twists at the end of the book. Nothing was as it seemed and it was a relief that the story wasn’t as simple as it started out to be.
Maybe Brown was just finding his groove with this book, but compared to his other thrillers this one would land low on my list of favorites. Most of the action surrounds David trying to find a ring, but this is the weakest part of the book because the most important scenes are back in the NSA building. It almost felt like David and his scenes were just to add a bit more spice to the book so we aren’t stuck looking over Susan’s shoulder while she does her decoding work. Because this book is so heavily focused on technology it also doesn’t have the same charm as his other books that mix history with modern-day thrill stories.
On its own, this is a satisfying thriller, but when you look at the author’s work as a whole this book doesn’t stand up to the rest. I even wonder how memorable this book will be over time although the topic is very relevant right now. If you love Dan Brown’s books I’d say check it out because he only has so many books. However, if you’re looking for his best work, I’d try the Robert Langdon series.