Digital Fortress – Dan Brown


Once again and with no surprise it’s another Dan Brown review. I am determined to make my way through all of his books, especially now that I have pre-ordered his new release for next September entitled Origin. I am already intrigued to see where this suspense thriller will go and what characters it will contain.

Digital Fortress is one of Dan Browns older pieces of work; it was actually his first published book back in 1998 although I have to say reading through this plot it could well be relevant in today’s society. Based on the intelligence organisation the NSA, this book is set in America and follows Susan Fletcher a lead cryptographer and mathematician who has been called into work on the weekend to solve a multi- billion problem. The NSA’s powerful code-cracking machine TRANSLTR has encountered a code that cannot be broken and it falls on her shoulders to find out why. Involving a worldwide hunt, guns, lies and codes this book is fast paced, exciting and harbours all the usual traits of a Dan Brown thriller.

I picked this book up wanting to go back to Brown’s roots and the foundation of his notoriety in the book world. I didn’t know what to expect having originally read his Langdon novels, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. However I have to say this book was equally exciting and hard to put down. I did miss the religious and cult-like aspects of the Langdon novels but this book held its own with symbolism and cryptography. I particularly enjoyed the strong female character, Susan who was independent, intelligent and confident, I had no doubt that Dan Brown could write a female character like this but I have to say I was a little surprised having only focused on Robert Langdon narratives.

This book is filled to the brim with intelligent and complex characters that all seem to specialise in different areas showcasing the necessity of different niche areas to make such a powerful system work in a government organisation. Of course across two areas of the organisations the directors are male which doesn’t annoy me but highlights the reality of the situation in these careers.  With that aside I felt the characters within the NSA were built on the stereotypical personalities that one would expect to find in this area. As well as this there were characters from across the globe and again adopting the expected characteristics of their cultures. I feel like this plot had a patriotic or American feel to it, not in a bad way but in the strength of the mysterious NSA, the powerhouse security system and the unimaginable thought of the security system being penetrated by an outside source. It had a ‘save the day’ feel to it that I have seen in many movies…and yet I loved it as always.

The writing in this book flowed from page to page and being consistent with Brown’s style the chapters jumped from one characters situation to another encouraging the reader to continue and reveal what lay ahead. As the plot thickened the pace increased as well as the suspense and I had no option but to keep turning the pages. Unfortunately while reading this book I had a lot of wedding plans to keep on top of so I couldn’t give the book the attention it needed but either way I found it hard to put down once I had opened the cover.

I am hoping to move on to Deception Point in the next few weeks or maybe even the new year as this is another novel with a strong female lead, but already I can’t help but wonder why Digital Fortress wasn’t picked up as a movie deal as well. It seems like a great action plot with twists and turns perfect for the big screen. I can understand as an earlier novel that Brown has fine-tuned his writing process through the years but there is no denying that this a great piece of work that doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads, it was a great read and one I would highly recommend if you are a fan of Dan Brown. Don’t limit yourself to Langdon novels when he can write characters as compelling and riveting. This book was filled with suspense and twists right to the end, I can’t fault it.



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