11 September, 2011

Dan Brown - Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress – with which I completed all 5 novels by Dan Brown. Like all of his books, this also sets around short span of time ( almost a day ), involves threat to national security, and secret codes to decipher to stop disaster, saving the day ( nation ) at the last moment, with events almost went out of hand and the saviour(s) crack the situation at the nick of time…

Digital Fortress is the brain child of a Japanese code writer and former employee of NSA,  a code which is believed to be unbreakable. NSA ( National Security Agency ), which is the gate keeper of America’s confidential digital documents, and the one responsible to crack down threats to the country in digital domain, doesn’t like the idea and try to crack it. They soon find the writer, Ensei Tankado dead. On desperate account to find the pass-key to break the code, Strathmore, the Deputy Director, sends David Becker to Spain, where Tankado found dead. In a series of  murders, dishonesty, and we-lost-it-situations the secrets were unfold and the day was saved.

Brown has kept his tradition of walking in the region less traveled. Whether it is been about the NSA, TRANSLTR, the million processor computer giant, or life of cryptographers. His style of telling thrillers with a lot of codes and secrets poured in abundance is repeated. But the setup and the world of digital programming make it interesting and different. Though we know that the heroes has to win in the end, how they make it kept a secret effectively. That’s the art of writing a thriller :)

There is a lot of similarity I found in every book of Brown. The one we trust the most, eventually turn to villain. A lot of co-incidences. i.e., when the main protagonists face a dead end, out of the blue, they find the solution. E.g., the one hero desperately trying to chase and lost, came from nowhere and suddenly he realize he found her ! Or when the lady needed a password, all she needs is to close her eyes and think. Voila ! She got it!  You will find more in the book. Another aspect is the depth of secret – the secret the whole of the cream of code breakers desperately trying to break turn out to be very simple. In The Lost Symbol, this happens too often that I almost lost interest in finding the ultimate secret word it was going to offer, and I was not in for a surprise there. When the readers were promised the moon and all they end up with a marble, it can not be funny.

May be too much of the decoding books I read, many of the secrets were open to me, like the secret partner of Tankado, NDAKOTA. May be I scan the name, Tankado than reading it ( the name is too tough for me to remember ), I had a feeling that NDAKOTA is an anagram (rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase ). Or the mission of the killer or  his boss – it was too easy to guess. It killed the surprise element a bit.

I would say, this book is an interesting read, if you got the basic understanding of computer codes. Dan Brown’s genius in telling smart thriller is here too, though not at its best. I needed a break from the decoding stuff after The Lost Symbol and Digital Fortress back to back, so I picked up a period fiction, The Immortals Of Meluha, which will come here soon. 


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