Sunday, April 6, 2014

Not as expected, but not bad

by Robert Harris 

Continuing with my Spring of historical fiction, I picked up another book by Harris, this one centered around a geek who finds himself in a most un-geeky situation. It's not often that a mathematician becomes the centerpiece of a riveting drama but then, it was not until World War II when mathematics became so crucial to the war effort. With Enigma, named after the famed Nazi Enigma code, Harris builds a tale around a fictitious student of Alan Turing.

Contrary to expectations, the book is not a mathematical thriller (is there any?) but a fast-paced drama, involving everything from love to espionage. It was quite slow in some parts, but that eventually picked up. What was surprising was the length of the chapters, easily exceeding 50 pages each. Typical to Harris' style, each one began with an engaging quotation, although that tool was used much more effectively in Pompeii.

Overall, Enigma was an engaging thriller but it was not of the kind that I had expected. I, geeky me, was looking for something highly academic, on the lines of a Dan Brown; but then, prejudices aside, it is a great book.

I'll be spending the Spring reading more of Harris - look ahead for those reviews! 

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