Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Decoding Enemy Messages

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Crimson Cipher
By Susan Page Davis

I’m enjoying the trend of novels set in the early half of the twentieth century. That period of history is close enough to be familiar, but far enough to capture the sense of “once upon a time.” The Crimson Cipher is one of those books. Set in 1915, when the U.S. is on the brink of war, in many ways it feels like it could be happening now. After all, we are familiar with war. But there are little details that remind us it isn’t now. The characters call each other Mr. or Miss, unless given permission to use first names. They light kerosene lamps when they enter rooms. And telephones are located down the hall, not in their pockets.

But the characters could be our neighbors and I would be proud to know them. Emma Shuster is a cryptologist for the Navy’s Signal Corps. She is one of an elite group of people who decipher coded messages from Germany. Her love interest is John Patterson who acts on the messages if they threaten the security of the U.S. The story flows smoothly through the circumstances of Emma’s recruitment, the risks John takes and some danger Emma faces because of her job and background.

I can’t say it was an intense story of espionage and intrigue, but it kept my interest throughout because of the characters and setting. Davis has crafted a wonderful story that balances mystery, danger and romance. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Pros: Likeable characters in an accessible setting with a well developed plot.

Cons: I don’t see anything to caution you about. It’s a great story.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Crimson Cipher
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

Susan Page Davis


From Susan: I've always loved reading, history, and horses. These things come together in several of my historical books. My young adult novel, Sarah's Long Ride, also spotlights horses and the rugged sport of endurance riding, as does the contemporary romance Trail to Justice. I took a vocational course in horseshoeing after earning a bachelor's degree in history. I don't shoe horses anymore, but the experience has come in handy in writing my books.

Another longtime hobby of mine is genealogy, which has led me down many fascinating paths. I'm proud to be a DAR member! Some of Jim's and my quirkier ancestors have inspired fictional characters.

For many years I worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a freelancer, covering local government, school board meetings, business news, fires, auto accidents, and other local events, including a murder trial. I've also written many profiles and features for the newspaper and its special sections. This experience was a great help in developing fictional characters and writing realistic scenes. I also published nonfiction articles in several magazines and had several short stories appear in Woman's World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

My husband, Jim, and I moved to his birth state, Oregon, for a while after we were married, but decided to move back to Maine and be near my family. We're so glad we did. It allowed our six children to grow up feeling close to their cousins and grandparents, and some of Jim's family have even moved to Maine!

Our children are all home-schooled. The two youngest are still learning at home. Jim recently retired from his vocation as an editor at a daily newspaper, and we’ve moved from Maine to Kentucky.



A female Navy cryptographer seeks to save lives...and uncover her father’s killers.

In 1915, German sympathizers escalated acts of sabotage in the United States to keep the nation from joining in the war. With enemies lurking at every turn, whom can Emma trust? Is romance the true motive behind her tow suitors advances? Or could one-or both of them-have traitorous intentions in mind?

Following the mysterious murder of Emma Shuster’s father, Lt. John Patterson invites Emma to become a Navy cryptographer because of the expertise she gained in helping her father develop a cipher system.

Emma races to discover the nefarious plans of her country's foes and unmask their leader before others are killed. She finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as Kobold - German for goblin.

And yet, her greatest challenge may be deciphering the cryptic messages her heart sends whenever she encounters a certain navy lieutenant... Can Emma and John find love in the midst of turmoil as America plunges toward war?

To read the first chapter of The Crimson Cipher, click HERE.

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1 comment:

Susan Page Davis said...

Thank you, Phee and other ladies at Pix-n-Pens, for featuring my new book. This was a fascinating period to write about. Promotions for The Crimson Cipher include a contest in the book for people who enjoy solving cryptograms and a monthly drawing on my website at, where the winners choose the books they want. Hope you all have a great reading day!