What a treat to read a children’s book on the code-breakers of Bletchley Park. As the cover depicts a man wearing a gas mask, seated on a bicycle with his brief case strapped to its rear wheel; few would question that the key character is Alan Turing.
Written for children between the ages of nine and into the early teens, Paul Morris takes his readers back in time through the adventures of Daniel Simon Higgins (Danny) a young teenager living in the 21st century surrounded by the technological wizardry of the day together with what could only be described as a magic mobile phone.
With those ever increasing decisions life throws at young people, Danny is pondering his Year 9 options which, if they included time travel would be top of his list.
He has travelled back in time before, and as a member of SHARP’s elite group of young agents, he is considered one of the best. It is whilst cycling back home from a friend’s house that Danny receives a call from his time controller, Kaz. The outcome of the call sends Danny back to the 3rd May 1926 and puts him on a collision course with another young man; an action which would cement the future of code-breaking at Bletchley Park.
With his mission accomplished, Danny swiftly returns to the 21st century and the pressures of selecting his Year 9 options. However, it does not take long before he is contacted by Kaz yet again and is transported back to November 1940 only to find himself at the wrong end of a rifle and the sharp tongue of an armed guard at Bletchley Park. Rescued by Dilly Knox, Danny is taken into the Mansion; he signs the Official Secrets Act; is introduced to the code-breakers of Hut 8 and sees people he has met before.
Danny has brought his own cipher to break, and without giving too much away the characters Morris has woven into the story play their part in highlighting the battle between good and evil; the values of friendship and loyalty; the ability to keep a secret and above all the need to maintain a little mystery in our lives.
Though Morris uses artistic licence to make comparisons and tell the story in an uncomplicated manner that does not detract from an excellent children’s novel. After all it is fiction………or is it?
Only Daniel Simon Higgins and Alan Mathison Turing can tell you that, and they have both signed the Official Secrets Act.