Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Codebreaker's Secret

The Codebreaker's Secret
  The Codebreaker's Secret
Author:  Sara Ackerman
Publication Information:  MIRA. 2022. 352 pages.
ISBN:  0778386880 / 978-0778386889

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and the HTP Summer 2022 historical fiction blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The ocean is far more than water."

Favorite Quote:  "Failure was a given. Accept that and you'd won half the battle."

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Like Sara Ackerman's other books, the history of this book is of WWII and of Hawaii. The separation between the history and the fiction is explained in the author's note. Station Hypo - the Dungeon in the book - was a real office of classified work during the war. Over 10,000 women worked around the county as codebreakers and translators in support of the war effort. Operation Vengeance to target a Japanese admiral was a key event in the war in the Pacific. There were Nazi spies and those who collaborated with them. In the 1960s, Laurance Rockefeller did indeed open the Mauna Kea Hotel.

From this history, the book builds a two timeline story - one of the war and the 1940s and one of the opening of the Mauna Kea Hotel in the 1960s. Also like Sara Ackerman's other books, the main characters are women, and the 1940s story follows the pivotal role women played in the war effort. 

In the 1940s is Isabella or Izzy. She is a codebreaker, trying to establish herself in a world of men. She is also a sister on a pilgrimage to view the world as her brother saw it before he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her story is one of work, of friendship, and of romance. Primarily, though, it is of the friendship and of her strength. That strength is depicted in her work, in her proficiency in chess, and in her courage in standing up and speaking out.

In the 1960s is Lu. She is Hawaiian born and raised. She calls the mainland home, as she chases a career as a journalist. An assignment to cover the opening of the hotel brings her home. Her journey is one of self discovery and of identifying what she stands for and what she wants out of life.

One connection between the two timelines - Matteo Russi - is clearly set out. His character is an interesting one for it touches on the traumas of war and the scars - both seen and unseen. The book makes a very specific point about the importance of telling his story and those like it to remove the stigma of those scars and to ensure that veterans such as Matteo Russi receive the support and resources to heal. Their service ensures our freedoms and must be honored.

In both timelines, there is a disappearance and a mystery. The book is a quick read that keeps me turning pages. What keeps me reading is not the mystery but the characters. The other connections between the two timelines and the mysteries become clear to me much before the reveal in the book happens. No matter for the discovery by the characters is part of the story. 

This is the third Sara Ackerman book I have read. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

About the Book

A brilliant female codebreaker. An “unbreakable” Japanese naval code. A pilot on a top-secret mission that could change the course of WWII. The Codebreaker's Secret is a dazzling story of love and intrigue set during America’s darkest hour.

1943. As war in the Pacific rages on, Isabel Cooper and her codebreaker colleagues huddle in “the dungeon” at Station HYPO in Pearl Harbor, deciphering secrets plucked from the airwaves in a race to bring down the enemy. Isabel has only one wish: to avenge her brother’s death. But she soon finds life has other plans when she meets his best friend, a hotshot pilot with secrets of his own.

1965. Fledgling journalist Lu Freitas comes home to Hawai'i to cover the grand opening of the glamorous Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Rockefeller's newest and grandest project. When a high-profile guest goes missing, Lu forms an unlikely alliance with an intimidating veteran photographer to unravel the mystery. The two make a shocking discovery that stirs up memories and uncovers an explosive secret from the war days. A secret that only a codebreaker can crack.

About the Author

Sara Ackerman is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes books about love and life, and all of their messy and beautiful imperfections. She believes that the light is just as important as the dark, and that the world is in need of uplifting stories. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and later earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and sees no end to its untapped stories. Find out more about Sara and her books at and follow her on Instagram @saraackermanbooks and on FB @ackermanbooks.

Buy Links
Barnes & Noble

Social Links

Author Website:
Facebook: @ackermanbooks
Twitter: @AckermanBooks
Instagram: @saraackermanbooks

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