The Enigma Game

Little, Brown. May 2020. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368012584.
Gr 7 Up–In the same vein as Wein’s Code Name Verity, this World War II novel is an exhilarating and atmospheric read. Set in 1940 in a small Scottish village on the North Sea that is home to a Royal Air Force base, the narrative features alternating voices, daring action in the air, and high-stakes intrigue on the ground as a variety of young people work to undermine and bring down the daunting German war machine. Fifteen-year-old Jamaican British Louisa Adair has lost both of her parents in the shelling, and must find a way to support herself while doing her bit to defeat the Nazis. Despite her losses and dislocation, Louisa keeps her flute by her side and her mother’s love of music in her heart. She lands a job in Windyedge caring for an elderly retired opera singer whose niece runs a pub near the air base. Louisa and the fascinating old woman, who is German by birth and living under a pseudonym, turn out to be kindred spirits, and eventually co-conspirators. Another teen, Ellen McEwen, hails from a family of Travellers and hides her background as she works as a volunteer driver at the base and takes on increasing responsibilities. Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, of Code Name Verity fame, appears as a 19-year-old flight leader for the 648 Squadron, flying slow and clunky Bristol Blenheim aircrafts, and is driven to desperation to keep his pilots safe and stand up to the mighty Messerschmitts. The young people’s lives and stories converge when a German pilot lands in Windyedge and leaves behind a mysterious box—an Enigma machine—and, more importantly, a key to how it works to translate German code. A lengthy “Author’s Declaration of Accountability” outlines Wein’s research and representation, and provides further reading and numerous interesting links.
VERDICT Just the ticket for lovers of historical thrillers and Wein’s many fans.

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