© 1995 Robert Harris
Publishers are fond of affixing swastikas to book covers when they involve Nazi Germany in any way. Enigma is one such book, as it is a historical action-mystery story set in the grim days of 1942 when U-boat wolf packs patrolled the waters of the Atlantic, destroying convoys of supplies bound for the British isles. In Britain, groups of men are assigned to crack the cipher code that the Nazi government uses to protect its transmissions to and from the U-boats. Being able to crack the code will give the Allies a tool they need to stay alive. Tom Jericho, the central character of Enigma, is one of those men. With a photographic memory and a mind for mathematics, Jericho is an important asset of the British armed forces, but the stress of his job recently led to fainting spells. The abrupt ending of his relationship with a mysterious and attractive woman working in the same area as he does not help.
The book begins with Jericho’s return to the project. He attempts to pick up the pieces of his old life, but finds that increasingly hard to do. The victories he once earned have been overturned and his old flame is impossible to find. A series of convoys from the United States make the issue of cracking the U-boat codes a necessity, but Jericho discovers evidence that may prove his old flame a German spy. Such is the story that Harris tells. I found it moderately enjoyable, although not nearly as much as other books I’ve read by him. That may have something to do with the math-centered plot. At any rate, it has not dulled my enthusiasm for Harris, and I look forward to reading whatever else he’s written.