By Dan Brown
|Value for money||4/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||3/10|
Mr Brown should stick to what he's good at
It’s not often I give up on a fiction book part-way through, but I just couldn’t take any more of this.
If you’re going to write a thriller about cryptography, where the central characters are code makers and code breakers, then you have to have a passing understanding of the subject – Dan Brown clearly doesn’t.
For example, the author regularly gets confused between bits and bytes: you don’t need 64 characters for a 64-bit key – 16 are plenty and you might manage with 8. He also doesn’t seem to understand geometrical progression – if a computer can crack a 64-bit code in a few seconds a similar 128-bit code won’t take twice as long, it will take the same computer 2^64 times as long, or rather
longer than the age of the universe.
Factual errors aside, the characters are very two-dimensional. Apart from one cripple, twisted both physically and mentally, most of the other central characters are perfect specimens who could make a living as models if not employed at wonderful salaries by the NSA. There’s no room, for example, for a good guy who is talented, dedicated, and an eccentric insecure suppressed homosexual, like the real code-breaking genius Alan Turing.
Dan Brown is the master of great plots, and I thoroughly enjoyed the films of both “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”. Unfortunately he doesn’t then flesh these plots out with decent writing or accurate details. On the strength of "Digital Fortress" I won’t be reading many of his books.