Saturday, May 6, 2017

Salem's Cipher

Salem's Cipher is Jess Lourey's debut novel and it is a fabulous start to what I hope will be a long writing career.  I loved this book which I believe is going to be a series with Salem Wiley as the main character. She is a cryptanalyst, able to decipher codes.

The story opens with the mothers of Salem and her best friend Isabel "Bel" Odegaard being kidnapped.  The mothers were also best friends and Salem and Bel grew up together.  After being contacted by the police about the crime the two of them meet at the scene of the crime where Salem finds a note that her mother wrote years ago.   The note was hidden in a wooden box that Salem had made for her when she was a child.  The note references a Dr. Keller who is a curator at a local museum and gives them a clue to look at a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi called Judith Slaying Holofernes.  After examining the painting Salem finds some words written deep within the painting.  Dr. Keller is vague about how he knows the mothers but gives them enough clues to send them off to Salem, Massachusetts in a search for the truth about what the mothers were up to.  As Salem and Bel follow numerous word and number puzzles they are led to travel  cross country all while being followed by men who are trying to kill them.

This was a wonderful story.  The puzzles that the women, in particular Salem, had to solve were difficult.  I had no idea how they were going to be figured out.  As an aside, the truth of the story involved the first woman presidential candidate just days before the General Election.  This added a nice element. Also, it is always great to see a novel with alot of strong female characters.  There are 5 here so you know the book was written by a woman.

Simply fabulous!

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