Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Voynich Cypher by Russell Blake

The Voynich Cypher


"The Voynich Cypher is a fast-paced, intelligently written story with twists & turns that kept me up late at night turning pages. I was as hooked by this book as I was by the Da Vinci Code -- if you liked Da Vinci, The Voynich Cypher has the same flavor -- I urge you to pick it up. A must read for any suspense lover." Melissa Foster, bestselling author of Chasing Amanda, Megan's Way & Come Back to Me

"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

Product Description

When a sacred relic is stolen from its subterranean guarded vault, Dr. Steven Cross, amateur cryptographer, becomes embroiled in a deadly quest to decipher one of history's most enigmatic documents - a 15th century parchment written entirely in unbreakable code; The Voynich Manuscript. Stalked by secret societies, and aided by the daughter of a murdered colleague, a trail of riddles catapults Cross from England to Italy to the Middle East, where a Byzantine web of ancient secrets leads him to a revelation so profound it will change the world order.

~ ~ ~

Russell Blake

Russell Blake is the acclaimed author of the intrigue/thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, the Zero Sum trilogy of Wall Street thrillers, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy (The Manuscript, The Tortoise and the Hare, Phoenix Rising), The Voynich Cypher (March, 2012) and Revenge of the Assassin (May, 2012).
His first satirical non-fiction work, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated) released to rave reviews from literary luminaries like Lawrence Block, John Lescroart and David Lender.
His second non-fiction book, "An Angel With Fur," is the true story of Lobo the miracle dog and is an international bestseller.
"Captain" Russell lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where he spends his time writing, fishing, collecting & drinking tequila, playing with his dogs and battling world domination by clowns.
His blog can be found at RussellBlake.com where he publishes his periodic thoughts, such as they are. 

Question & Answers with Russell Blake

Q: What is the Voynich Manuscript that is the basis of your novel?

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.

A Guest Post by Russell Blake

How The Kindle Saved The World

A funny thing happened a few years ago. Literacy returned to America. I don’t mean in some ambiguous way. I mean that reading became hip again, after losing ground against television, films, and the internet, for decades.
What brought this about? Was it some essential work that captured all human experience and made people want to read again? Was it a way to make millions while working from home only three hours a day? The secret to living into triple digits while enjoying boundless good health and freedom from disease?

Er, not really.

No, what did it is that a company called Amazon revolutionized the delivery system for books. And having one of these devices everyone was suddenly toting aboard planes and on their lunch hours became all the rage.

The kindle started off as a device that most tech weenies mocked, only to be beaten in the volume of their mirth by those who knew publishing – the business of producing and distributing books. After all, electronic books had been around for a long time. The idea of reading a book on a screen was nothing new, and in fact, had been something most people who’d tried it, hated. Because of the back lighting, and the eye strain, and the headaches.

Reading on a computer basically sucked, if you were going to do it for any length of time.

Been there. Done that. Nothing to see here.

Amazon came out with the kindle, featuring a screen that wasn’t back lit, and the world responded with a yawn. Even savants like Apple chuckled at the naiveté of an online store, for heaven’s sake, trying to make inroads in the hardware business. It seemed silly at worst, and a hubris-laden waste of money, at best.

Of course, nobody who mocked the innovation had actually used one. Or, they had powerful financial reasons to believe that the technology would never catch on.

Fast forward a few years, and now suddenly everyone has a kindle. Some have several. It’s said that the kindle is the most gifted device ever dreamt of for Christmas or birthdays.

Reading became hip.

Which opened a door for people like me.

My name’s Russell Blake, and I’ve published 13 titles since June, 2011. I will release another 5 to 6 this year. Maybe more. Depends upon my muse, and what interests me.

Before the kindle, I wouldn’t have bothered. Writing a novel and then waiting months, if not years, for an agent to like it enough to take it on, and then waiting another bunch of months or years for the agent to find a publisher who liked it enough to sign it, in a deal where I would get a sliver of the pie that amounted to beer money…well, let’s just say the idea didn’t have a lot of appeal for me.

But then Amazon made it ridiculously easy to publish my work, and in a simple step, eliminated the entire NY publishing industry from my equation.

Now I could publish a novel, and nothing stood between me, and my reader. Just Amazon, who wanted 30% for the trouble of managing the distribution system. That seemed fair, given that the publishing industry wanted more like 85%.

And so I decided to write. I’ve been writing for decades, but I never published, because the work wasn’t ready. It was nice, and fun, and I did it as a hobby, but I knew the work wasn’t good enough to charge people to read. I was fine with that. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But now, I could, and did, publish. And guess what happened? Slowly, but steadily, and then in a rush, readers discovered my books. And the majority liked them. A lot.

Now, I count myself as a kind of minor miracle, in that I am earning enough to have a handsome life in Mexico, where I’ve lived for nearly a decade. All from writing stories.

Mainly, I write thrillers, in the Robert Ludlum/Frederick Forsyth tradition. I’ve also written a pet biography, and a parody of get rich quick self-publishing guides that seem to be all the rage lately. But at heart, I’m a suspense writer.

My latest, The Voynich Cypher, is more in the mold of Foucault’s Pendulum, The Da Vinci Code, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It just released March 17, and has seen over 30,000 downloads, 5000 of which were paid. Most like it, and it looks poised to do nicely in 2012 and beyond. If anyone was going to start with one of my books, I’d recommend that one – it’s by far the most accessible.

In closing, all of this was brought about by the kindle, and by Amazon looking at the big publishers, and going, “What value do you bring in electronic distribution that we don’t already deliver?”

For that I am enormously grateful.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Russell Blake is the acclaimed author of thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, Night of the Assassin, King of Swords, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, and his latest, The Voynich Cypher – a Dan Brown/Raiders of the Lost Ark style adventure thriller based on a real-life fifteenth century manuscript written entirely in unbreakable code. He has also penned the non-fiction tomes An Angel With Fur, and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated). Views expressed are solely those of the author.

For all of you with Kindles, you can head over to Amazon and download a sample to read of each of Russell Blake's books. How cool is that?

        I am very busy these days with the ever-growing stack of books I need to read for reviews. But, there are so many good books out there waiting to be read that I decided to feature books without my review on my site. I have done a little research on each book and found it worthy of being included in this new feature on my blog (worthy according to “Lucy”- meaning I would review the book if my pile were not so high.) The author’s are anxiously awaiting reviews, so if you see a book that captures your fancy, please feel free to contact the author and let them know that you would like to review the book. Thank you.


  1. Voynich Cyper sounds good, and the comments on "Kindle" are spot on, as always a good post

  2. Hi, I liked the extract I read on Kindle, very pacey and quite believable. I love the Jason Bourne movies, this would fit in with that type of action.
    I have no blog but I do have a book. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007O56UCQ/ref=nosim?tag=theindebosto-20&linkCode=sb1&camp=212353&creative=380549 Adult fiction with lots of 'nice' sex.


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