An old-fashioned espionage yarn involving crafty coded messages, set against a post–World War II milieu buzzing with Soviet spies, fugitive Nazis and UFO sightings.
When Everyman Donald accidently dribbles some errant apple juice on a slip of paper, revealing hidden cypher text, the resourceful Brit is unwittingly drawn into an intricate web of international spying that eventually extends to the southern tip of Africa. Comprised of short, rapid-fire chapters, this spirited spy tale quickly assembles a myriad of moving parts that, all working together, confidently build suspense and steadfastly propel the adventure forward. There are strange things afoot, and Donald is in the thick of it. Nefarious figures keep popping up on the periphery and vanishing, leaving only unanswered questions in their wakes. The quaintness of invisible ink and weirdly fashioned devices of unknown design smack of a time when the forces of good and evil appeared more clearly defined. The events here may be fanciful, but the secret code and the name it reveals serve as the story’s lynchpin securely rooted in reality. As such, Donald’s journey deep into the heart of a secret, nefarious organization pays homage to the tireless efforts of World War II codebreakers, superbly illustrating the ingenuity they employed to help shape the path of history. The serviceable prose—“Donald tried to taste some of the African beer and bravely swallowed some. It was a milky watery substance”—largely eschews overwrought descriptions in favor of plot propulsion, seldom distracting from the action.
A refreshingly earnest adventure that honors the work of World War II–era codebreakers.