Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome Russell Blake, author of The Voynich Cypher (5 stars)

I am thrilled to welcome Russell Blake, international bestselling author, today. His newest book, The Voynich Cypher, debuted March 17, 2012. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy to review.

But first, Russell is answering a couple of questions. Welcome, Russell.

In your research for the book, what's the most interesting fact/information you stumbled across?

Boy, this book was research intensive, so that's a tall order. I think I'd have to say that the research into the Voynich Manuscript's authorship was probably the most interesting, as it involved reading dozens of web resources and an entire book on the topic. Of course, the book was wrong in its conclusions about authorship, as carbon dating of the manuscript would make the notional author, Roger Bacon, pre-date the document by over a century. But it was still fascinating reading the history of the Voynich's possession through the ages, much of which is speculative as well. It really is one of the last mysteries out there, and one of the most enduring.

What book has most influenced your writing and why?

Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth. Why? Because up until that book came out, thriller fiction was mostly cartoonish - sort of the Ian Fleming brand where tough guy superagents were bigger than life, bedded beauties at every turn, and had bullets bounce off them. Jackal changed that. It singlehandedly introduced realism in the genre, and changed everything. It's one of my favorite books, still, for that reason.

Having said that, I would also give a nod to Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and of course Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and half of Clive Cussler's novels - when it comes to my latest, The Voynich Cypher. That book is a departure for me, and pays homage to those types of treasure hunt novels. It was a fun departure from my typical conspiracy theory driven novels, although I managed to work in a conspiracy to drive the story.

Thanks for stopping by, Russell.

And without further ado, the review…

From Amazon: When a sacred relic is stolen from its subterranean guarded vault, Dr. Steven Cross, amateur cryptographer, becomes embroiled in a deadly quest to decipher one of history's most enigmatic documents - a 15th century parchment written entirely in unbreakable code; The Voynich Manuscript. Stalked by secret societies, and aided by the daughter of a murdered colleague, a trail of riddles catapults Cross from England to Italy to the Middle East, where a Byzantine web of ancient secrets leads him to a revelation so profound it will change the world order.

Thanks to my husband, I knew just how good this book really was. Sure, I would have enjoyed it. What’s not to like? There’s intrigue, danger, romance, mystery, emotion, and so on. From the first word to the last, you’ll be hooked. But without hubby’s previous book recommendations, I wouldn’t have known it was as good as novels by Clive Cussler and Dan Brown.

Dr. Steven Cross goes from decoding as a hobby to a world-wide adventure that puts his life in danger. Enter Natalie Twain, a woman of mystery who is quite capable of taking care of herself. But her father’s been murdered, and she needs Dr. Cross to translate The Voynich Manuscript. She has the key to doing so, but will the bad guys get to them first?

Action abounds, but the author never sacrifices character development for pulse-pounding thrills. Instead he gives us both. The twists and turns left me constantly guessing what would happen next and who the main characters could trust.

If you have read and loved Cussler and/or Brown, you’ll love The Voynich Cypher. My husband is quite eager to get his hands on it. But don’t worry, ladies, it’s not only for the guys.

Rating: 5 stars

For more information on Russell Blake and his novels, please visit his website. 

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes (thanks to the World Literary Café Review team). A positive review was not asked for or guaranteed. The opinions expressed are my own.