"Russell Blake writes with a brisk intensity & pulse-pounding power. Jump in and hang on for a nonstop thrill ride." Scott Nicholson, Liquid Fear
"Blake has never failed to deliver an intelligent, exquisitely paced thriller, packed with unforgettable characters, devious intrigue and immersive detail. He has emerged as the most consistently satisfying writer on the thriller scene." Steven Konkoly, bestselling author of Black Flagged & The Jakarta Pandemic
""Dr. Steven Cross, aided by hot, edgy, yet vulnerable gal pal, Natalie Twain, will have you racing across Europe and the Middle East in Russell Blake's action-packed thriller, The Voynich Cypher - a taut roller-coaster ride featuring plenty of intrigue, suspense and mayhem; not to mention the kind of good-versus-evil conflicts that can only arise out of institutional religion gone bad. If you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, this book's for you!" John L. Betcher, bestselling author of the James Becker Thriller Series
"The Voynich Cypher is a breakneck-paced thriller that will give fans of the likes of the Da Vinci Code a dose of Russell Blake speed, mixed with gut-twisting international intrigue & suspense." David Lender, bestselling author of Vaccine Nation, Bull Street, The Gravy Train & Trojan Horse
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RB: The Voynich Manuscript is a medieval manuscript from the fifteenth century written entirely in a cypher - a code that has withstood the decryption efforts of the best minds in cryptography. Rare book dealer Wilfred Voynich discovered it in 1912 among the possessions of a recently deceased Jesuit General in Italy, and ever since it surfaced it's captivated the imaginations of cryptographers for a century. It is one of the true mysteries of modern times, and remains as enigmatic as when it first saw the light of day.
Q: How would you describe the book?
RB: It's a treasure hunt, mystery and adventure, in the tradition of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, Dan Brown's work, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I love the way the book turned out, even if it is a departure from my usual Robert Ludlum-style thrillers. I have wanted to write a book like this for a long time, but never found a suitably inspirational idea until this one forced its way into my consciousness. I'm sure I'll take some flack for it as parts could be construed as heretical, but them's the breaks. I think the finished product is as gripping and racing a read as anything I've read, and early readers have been very encouraging.
Q: This is the second book featuring Dr. Steven Cross. Tell us about him.
RB: Dr. Cross first appeared in my Wall Street thriller, Zero Sum, as the protagonist. Only the first half of that story he was Dr. Steven Archer, but was forced to change his name and adopt a new identity to avoid being killed. Voynich is a continuation of that story, and picks it up 5 years from where Zero Sum left off. I've always liked Steven - he's an interesting mix of Zen sensibility and American entrepreneur, with some academic thrown in. I thought the mix was a novel one - a former soldier who never fit in or felt comfortable in his skin, who meditates and is into martial arts, but is also mildly OCD and takes up esoteric pursuits - fundamental analysis, watch collecting, cryptography. I like the character because he's so atypical - hard to pin down or pigeonhole. He's funny, but scary smart in a detached way, and while brave, is also fearful of connection in the real world. My hope is readers will find him in Voynich and then go back and see the story of how he evolved in Zero Sum.
Q: Who is The Voynich Cypher targeted at? Who's the ideal reader?
RB: Smart, hip, demanding readers who want a meal, not a snack. For me, so many of the adventure thrillers fall flat, their authors seeming tired or out of things to say. This is a robust book written to satisfy at a number of levels, and as with all my work, creates more questions than it answers. My goal is to create a rush of an adventure unlike anything most readers can find elsewhere. It's a breakneck, unflinching juggernaut of a book, and I think anyone who enjoys this genre will be happily surprised by the quality and depth of the story, characters and writing.
The Voynich Cypher is approximately 100,000 words in length, and features Dr. Steven Archer Cross from Russell Blake's Wall Street thriller, Zero Sum.