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Salem's Cipher Paperback – September 8, 2016
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About the Author
Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist,the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." A tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, Jess lives inMinneapolis with her family. Salem's Cipher, the first book in her thrilling Witch Hunt series, hit stores September 2016. Rewrite Your Life, the turn-facts-into-fiction how-to she made famous in her popular TEDx Talk, releases May 2017. You can find out more at jessicalourey.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
1. The fast pace. It didn't stop. The action started immediately. It's not that I only like it when the book's pace is fast - I also appreciate books where the pace is slower and methodical, such as the marvelous The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. But in TNOTR the story itself and the characters called for such a slower pace. In this novel Salem's Cipher, the pressure was on to solve the crime quickly because a life (lives) were at stake, and the fast pace of the novel did a great job to make me feel that pressure. I wanted them to move quickly.
2. The clues were intelligent, as were both the main characters. Bel and Salem were a Chicago police officer and a computer scientist/mathematician. I loved this, because I enjoyed reading a thriller mystery in which the women could hold their own just I know actual women in my life could be smart enough to problem solve as well.
3. Bel and Salem were best friends. There was no animosity between the two of them. They didn't compete over a man. They had great camaraderie. I want to read more stories (and see films) in which the women work well together and have a friendship that is practical and realistic as well as tender.
4. The villain was REALLY creepy. The chapters that describe what he does are disgusting. I won't add spoilers here. Those chapters put images in my mind that even now as I write are making me cringe. The villain has an advantage (besides being a psychopathic killer), a physical advantage, that makes him even scarier because if such a person can do what he does, it would make him impossible to catch or identify.
5. I enjoyed the information in history that I hadn't known before reading this book, history of art and math.
Lourey does an excellent job keeping tensions high. The action begins in the very first chapter and never lets up. The characters are people you can imagine being friends with. They have flaws and fears and histories that have helped to define them. The parallels between pieces of the plot and real current events only serves to heighten the draw of this fantastic book, which is sure to appeal to those who appreciate a good action novel.
Disclosure: I won a copy of this book during a giveaway.
Salem Wiley is a code breaker, and she also suffers from agoraphobia which really limits her life. Thank heaven she has her best friend Isabel Odegaard (Bel). The girls have been best friends forever, just like their moms Grace Odegaard and Vida Wiley have been friends forever too. Or at least Salem and Bel were until Bel went off to college and Salem just couldn't leave home. Bel now has a significant other and lives in Chicago while Salem is still in Minneapolis. And Salem had made the mistake of telling the truth when Bel and Rachel visited..... Bel asked her what she thought of Rachel, and the truth wasn't pretty. Now they haven't been speaking, until the night they were called to Bel's mom's apartment. Grace's neighbor was found murdered in front of Grace's door, and with the amount of blood there and in the apartment, and the fact that Salem's mother Vida had been at the apartment too, it looks like both the mothers could also be dead, but why???
Salem and Bel find themselves chasing coded clues pointing to conflict involving a feminist movement - the Underground, and a group of male supremacists - the Hermitage. It appears that the two groups have been fighting for a very long time over women's rights and the fight is coming to a head because Gina Hayes is running for president of the USA. And to the Hermitage members' horror, it looks like she's going to win. The coded messages hint that the Underground has hidden something that will put the Hermitage out of business, and Salem and Isabel must break the code and find the object(s).
While the girls are trying to put the clues together to locate their moms, they are being hounded by the FBI and pursued by Hermitage members with only one mandate - locate the girls, get the information that had been decoded and then destroy everything - humans included.
Salem and Bel find themselves chasing clues that lead them from the Midwest to New England to California, and seem to involve historical people, Emily Dickinson and Andrew Jackson to name a few. And their pursuers are manically crazy.
I had to read the book in two days, but sure hated to put it down. The historical background is amazing, and the author makes it seem so real that I could just picture everything in the story. I really got caught up in Salem's plight, and wasn't sure how this was going to end.
If you like nonstop action and don't mind very graphic descriptions, I think you'll really like this book too. Now I can't wait until "Mercy's Chase", the next book in the series is published. Can't pre-order yet, but I'm now following Jess Lourey, and have my fingers crossed that I can get it soon.
Also should let you know that I won this book from the author and dru's book musings [...]
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