Salem's Cipher

Midnight Ink. Sept. 2016. 480p. ISBN 9780738749693. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738750729. M
OrangeReviewStarBest friends Salem Wiley and Isabel Odegaard grew up together, but Bel has gone on to the Chicago police department and Salem remains in Minneapolis, hemmed in by her agoraphobia, after the suicide of her beloved father. Despite her condition, Salem has triumphed in the world of cryptography, which serves her well when her mother, Grace, is kidnapped along with Bel's mom, Vida. Bel and Salem are drawn into a centuries-old conspiracy to derail women's rights. On the eve of the election of the first female U.S. president, the ruthless Heritage Foundation works to identify members of the Underground, of which Grace and Vida are important participants. A secret message encrypted in an Emily Dickinson poem; codes tucked into the Beale ciphers, three texts dating back to the country's early days; and computer cryptography all combine to pack a punch in Lourey's ("Murder-by-Month" mysteries) first volume of her new "Witch Hunt" series.
VERDICT Complex protagonists who overcome many obstacles take adventurous readers on a hair-raising thrill ride. Dan Brown fans will eagerly anticipate more Salem and Bel adventures down the road.
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