Title: The Patriot Cipher
Author: Sean McCutchen
“Wanting to get up and walk around while he thought, he brought up the next message on the big screen. The screen slowly brightened with the characters of the next cipher. Basher could only stare in disbelief, instantly feeling stuck once again.”
The Patriot Cipher is a thriller/espionage novel which follows the protagonist Basher (Ben Asher) a cryptanalyst who receives a ciphered message and must help the FBI crack the code. He is the best of the best and knows that no one else can match his skills as a coder-breaker; but when he begins to receive ciphers from “The Patriot” Basher may finally have met his match. With the safety of the country’s infrastructure at stake, and no idea of the motive of the person(s) behind the ciphers, Basher becomes more determined to beat them, but has he just met his match?
As a protagonist, Basher was fascinating; it was so interesting to watch him try and decipher the codes, and what I loved about it was the author’s dedication to using real codes and ciphers which made the narrative so fascinating. Plus, at the back of the book there is a “Reference” section where the author explains all the ciphers in detail which was really useful to gain a proper understanding of how they were being used in the plot.
From a purely structural point of view, I loved that the author split the book into parts, not only did it keep the pace, but once you are invested in the storyline, it really heightens the tension as another cipher is trying to be decoded.
I also really loved McCutchen’s writing style, especially in the prologue, it was very poetic and added a really sense of depth to the narrative which aided it’s effect and impact overall, especially once I’d reached the end. I’m not sure how much of the protagonist’s opinions were shared by the author, but if this was his way of conveying them, then writing them as he did was very cogent indeed.
Now, I have sung this book’s praises and it is very safe to say that I really enjoyed it (I mean, I read it in a day, so that says a lot!)… BUT. The ending. I was so excited to see where the narrative would take me, and I was so disappointed with how it was concluded so that was such a shame. I just wish it had gone in a slightly different direction because I was unsatisfied to say the least, and it felt very much like a cop out. But hey, that’s just my opinion, so maybe other readers may feel differently.
When that’s all said and done, there’s no denying that I enjoyed this book; I loved the writing, the characters were plausible, fleshed out, but in a defined way which left the right amount of time for plot rather than getting bogged down in their character developments, and the storyline was (mostly) original and interesting. I would highly recommend this for any thriller lovers and anyone who loves a bit of espionage too, and hopefully other people like the ending more than I did!
Thank you to the author, Sean McCutchen, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.