"Ford's The Cipher is a thrill-a-minute ride. A very cool read."--David Baldacci
You think your emails are private?
Your credit card number is secure?
That stock trades, government secrets, and nuclear codes are safe?
Robert “Smiles” Smylie is not a genius. He feels like he’s surrounded by them, though, from his software mogul dad to his brainy girlfriend to his oddball neighbor Ben, a math prodigy. When Ben cracks an ancient, real-life riddle central to modern data encryption systems, he suddenly holds the power to unlock every electronic secret in the world—and Smiles finally has a chance to prove his own worth.
Smiles hatches a plan to protect Ben from the government agents who will stop at nothing to get their hands on his discovery. But as he races from a Connecticut casino to the streets of Boston, enlisting the help of an alluring girl, Smiles comes to realize the most explosive secrets don’t lie between the covers of Ben’s notebook—they’re buried in his own past.
Eerily close to reality and full of shocking twists, this techno-thriller reveals how easily the private can become public, and just how dangerous it can be to encrypt our personal histories.
Ford (The Morgue and Me) weaves a twisty, paranoid tale of technology, secrets, and lies, as 18-year-old Robert "Smiles" Smylie, heir to a major software security company, gets caught up in a thrilling caper. By solving the fabled Riemann Hypothesis, Smiles's friend Ben has developed a program that can crack any private code in the world. In the right hands, it could be worth millions. Smiles's plan: sell the program to the government for a fortune before they simply take Ben and his discovery away for their own purposes. With the mysterious Erin as their accomplice, the team seems poised to succeed until things go horribly wrong. With Ben in the hands of the NSA, the program stolen, and Smiles's father's company on the line, Smiles has to play all sides against the middle. Ford capably juggles several threads as he pulls off a complicated series of plans and double-crosses, as well as the mathematical angle that makes the story's MacGuffin possible and plausible. The end result is an unpredictable story with some audacious twists. Ages 12 up.