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The Cipher by John C. Ford

The Cipher

by John C. Ford

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Robert Smiley, Jr., is the son of encription-king, Robert Smiley, Sr. Forever in his dad's large shadow, "Smiles" shows fits and starts of initiative and intelligence but always seems to sink back into young adult slacker mode: video games, fast food... even his girl friend, Melanie, is a childhood friend grown up. Smiles is between jobs and between lives, having been kicked out of a prestigious prep school. He lives in an apartment near MIT where his only real friend is his brilliant but naive neighbor, Ben.

When Ben confesses to Smiles that he believes he has found the solution to a centuries-old math puzzle, the Riemann Hypothesis which is the basis for all modern encription services, including Smiles' Dad's company, Smiles sees his chance to win fame and glory. He leads Ben into a clandestine meeting with the NSA. But things do not go as planned and things are not as they seem. The plot includes a wild ride to Las Vegas, a kidnapping, hot tubs, and $7 million dollars. The author manages to tie up all of the loose ends and bring the mystery to a satisfying conclusion.

There is nothing objectionable beyond a few make-out scenes, threats of violence, and an opening death that happens 'off screen.' While not a character study, Smiles, his father, and Melanie all evolve in small ways that are believable and worthy of some discussion. The plot is tightly-woven with enough twists and turns to keep this reader up into the night.

This is a deft little mystery that is well-paced, intriguing, and eminently relevant. The author, John C. Ford was a runner-up for the Edgar Award for his first book, THE MORGUE AND ME. This book seems destined to follow in its footsteps. ( )
  mjspear | Mar 9, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670015423, Hardcover)

"Ford's The Cipher is a thrill-a-minute ride. A very cool read."--David Baldacci
You think your emails are private?
Your credit card number is secure?
That stock trades, government secrets, and nuclear codes are safe?
...th1nk aga1n.

Robert “Smiles” Smylie is not a genius. He feels like he’s surrounded by them, though, from his software mogul dad to his brainy girlfriend to his oddball neighbor Ben, a math prodigy.  When Ben cracks an ancient, real-life riddle central to modern data encryption systems, he suddenly holds the power to unlock every electronic secret in the world—and Smiles finally has a chance to prove his own worth.
Smiles hatches a plan to protect Ben from the government agents who will stop at nothing to get their hands on his discovery.  But as he races from a Connecticut casino to the streets of Boston, enlisting the help of an alluring girl, Smiles comes to realize the most explosive secrets don’t lie between the covers of Ben’s notebook—they’re buried in his own past.
Eerily close to reality and full of shocking twists, this techno-thriller reveals how easily the private can become public, and just how dangerous it can be to encrypt our personal histories.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:45 -0400)

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