The Novel
'Enigma' - the film - is based on the 1995 best-selling novel by Robert Harris.
Author's Note: The novel is set against the background of an actual historical event. The German naval signals quoted in the text are all authentic. The characters, however, are entirely fictional.

Links to Page Sections:
Reviews of the Novel
About the Author
Character Descriptions
Chapter Synopses

Reviews of the Novel:

A gripping World War II mystery novel with a cryptographic twist, Enigma's hero is Tom Jericho, a brilliant British mathematician working as a member of the team struggling to crack the Nazi Enigma code. Jericho's own struggles include nerve-wracking mental labor, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his co-workers within the paranoid high-security project, and the certainty that someone close to him, perhaps the missing girl, is a Nazi spy. The plot is pure fiction but the historical background, Alan Turing's famous wartime computing project that cracked the German U-boat communications code, is real and accurately portrayed. Enigma is convincingly plotted, forcefully written, and filled with well drawn characters; in short, it's everything a good technomystery should be.

From Booklist:
At the heart of Britain's most precious World War II secret, breaking the Germans' codes, lurks a spy who might be tipping off the enemy. Enter genius cryptanalyst Tom Jericho, who discovers that a woman with whom he had a sexual encounter has stolen some undeciphered cryptograms. When she disappears to boot, alarms galore ring off as the Foreign Office starts investigating, and Jericho conducts a solo, unauthorized inquiry. The suspect's roommate, the mousy Hester Wallace, joins forces with Jericho, and they decipher the stolen messages--reports of the German discovery of the Katyn Forest massacre. But why should the traitor pinch that news for the Germans, thus letting them know that their Enigma coding system was compromised? Perhaps overintricately, Harris buries the motivation until Jericho ends up in the hospital and the spy ends up dead. Needing a resolution, Harris sends an official to Jericho's bedside to unwind the whole balled-up mystery. Though not providing quite the edge-of-seat thrill as Fatherland (1992), Harris' spy riddle should snare espionage readers, whose antennae will intercept the publicity alerts. Gilbert Taylor

Other reviews:
"SPECTACULAR" -- The New York Times Book Review
"A TENSE AND THOUGHTFUL THRILLER." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"GRIPPING . . . CAPTIVATING ." -- New York Daily News
"ELEGANTLY RESEARCHED - Readers will find themselves perfectly placed to experience one of Britain's finest hours." -- People
"SATISFYING - Harris does a crackerjack job here, playing his characters' lives off historical events in surprising ways." -- Entertainment Weekly
"GRIPPING...A riveting, first-rate World War II thriller filled with well-drawn characters...A guaranteed bestseller." -- Hartford Courant
"An exciting and highly intellectual puzzle... A well-written thriller." -- Sunday Star-Ledger
"Fast-paced... Moves quickly enough to satisfy the action/adventure fan." -- The Wichita Eagle
"A high-adrenaline thriller... Superbly drawn characters... A rare mix of cerebral and visceral thrills... It doesn't take a Jericho to decode where this book is headed: right on to the bestseller lists." -- Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

Robert Harris was born in 1957, in Nottingham, England, and educated at Cambridge University. He graduated with an honors degree in English and joined the BBC, working as a researcher and director before becoming the BBC's youngest reporter on "Newsnight" in 1982. In 1987, he left television to become political editor of The Observer before joining the Sunday Times as a weekly columnist in 1989. He has since made several films for British television. Harris is the author of five nonfiction books, three of which have been published in the United States: A Higher Form of Killing (1982), a history of chemical and biological warfare; Gotcha! (1983), a study of how the media covered the Falklands War; and Selling Hitler (1986), the story of the forged Hitler diaries scandal, which was made into a television miniseries. His first novel, Fatherland (1992), was the most successful first novel by a British author in the past twenty years and was published in 18 countries. He lives near Hungerford, Berkshire with his wife and two children.

Main Character Descriptions from the novel (The characters have been changed a bit for the film):

Thomas Jericho (played in the film by Dougray Scott):
   26 years old, mathematician, Junior Research Fellow. Graduated King's College, Cambridge in 1935.
   Not very tall, thin, "bookish". Has a sarcastic smile, bright eyes glint with intelligence. Described by landlady as pleasant, with very good manners and a quiet voice.
   Nonviolent - had never hit another person, not even as a boy.
   Offered job at Government Code and Cipher School in 1939.
   When war was declared, ordered to report to Bletchley Park. Assigned to analyze encrypted German radio traffic.
   Suffered breakdown after first success in breaking Enigma code, but is called back to service after the Enigma machine is reset and messages can no longer be deciphered.
   Is heart sick over recent breakup with Claire Romilly.

Hester Wallace (played in the film by Kate Winslet):
   28 years old, clergyman's daughter, taught divinity at girl's prep school.
   Dresses plainly - sensible shoes, dark clothes. Wears little make-up, hair pulled back. Tom decides she could look pretty, if she put her mind to it.
   Her bedroom looks like a cell - just a bed, washstand and some books piled on a chair.
   Described by roommate as "a sweetie".
   Was recruited to work at Bletchley Park after winning First Prize in a Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle contest. Disappointed to be assigned where she merely labels incoming messages.
   Harbors undeclared feelings for Claire.

Claire Romilly (played in the film by Saffron Burrows):
   20 years old, tall, blond, well-dressed.
   Has worked at Bletchley Park for only a few months. Describes job as boring - Daddy got it for her to keep her out of trouble.
   There are always two or three guys hanging around her.
   Charmed the owner of the cottage where she resides into renting it to her.
   Bedroom is in disarray - "an extravagance of color and fabric and scent."
   Caught by Tom going through his clothes, chest of drawers.

Chapter Synopses:

Chapter 1 - Whispers  (Setting - Cambridge University, February 1943)
[Note: The first part of the book deals with setting up conflicts, the history of the Enigma machine, and the role of the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park. The character Kate Winslet plays does not appear until Chapter Three. There will, however, be plenty of action to follow.]

Part 1:

Thomas Jericho, brilliant young mathematician, returns to his former rooms at Kings College, Cambridge for a well deserved rest. The staff notices how pale and weak he seems, and speculate that he has had a nervous breakdown. They wonder who he is - a spy? The Foreign Office had made these arrangements, so he must be someone of great importance to the country.

Three days after his arrival, Jericho receives three letters, including a card that the porter attempts to read before passing it along to Tom. He decides Tom's "problem" is that he is suffering from a broken heart.

Part 2:

Jericho puts off reading his mail, and goes to visit the now deserted rooms of his mentor, Alan Turing. This genius is the author of "On Computable Numbers". Tom remembers being summoned to a meeting with F.J. Atwood, professor of ancient history, and dean of the college. They discuss the fact that Tom speaks German. He had learned the language in order to read the works of the great 19th century mathematicians. They also discuss the history of cryptograms and cryptanalysis. Apparently, Turing had informed Atwood that Jericho would be very good at cryptanalysis.

These recollections cause great anxiety to Jericho. He manages to return to his room, where he collapses on the bed. Visions of past conversations haunt him, including one in which Claire apologizes to him for getting under his skin.

Waking up, he remembers the mail he hasn't yet opened. Two envelopes contain birthday cards from relatives. The third is a cheap card with a typical message, obviously purchased in a hurry and without much thought. The sender has added that Tom will always be seen as a friend...maybe someday... These are not the words Tom hopes for, longs for. He burns the card.

After a few days, Jericho feels stronger and is finally able to sleep through the night, something he hasn't been able to do for over two years. He realizes that the doctor is right - he isn't mad, just suffering from nervous exhaustion.

One evening in March, he is walking outside when he notices a light go on in his room. He starts to run towards the building, suddenly filed with energy. He calls out, "Claire!" Could it really be Claire?

Part 3:

But it's not Claire, it's Guy Logie, his boss from Bletchley Park, and a stranger named Leveret. This man is searching his bedroom. Jericho figures he is going to be fired from his job, but Logie has something else in mind. He reminds him that he [Tom] had been the one to break "Shark" - and it had broken him. Shark is the cipher of the German U-boats. This cipher is made on an Enigma machine with a special fourth rotor. That makes the code 26 times harder to break. Only U-boats carry that special Enigma machine.

Before Shark, most of the messages transmitted from U-boats had been broken within one day. For ten months after Shark was introduced, the cryptanalysts had only been able to read messages just three times - and it took 17 days each time to break the code. This meant, of course, their intelligence was useless. So, the Germans were able to continue using their U-boats to sink hundreds of Allied ships.

Jericho remembers those terrible months when they worked so diligently to break the code. He also recalls the night he had a breakthrough and figured out how the Germans were setting the Enigma machine. This revelation allowed the team to read the coded messages, and resulted in cutting the Allied losses by 75%.

Now, Logie is reminding Jericho that they knew it couldn't last long, because the Germans would eventually get suspicious and make some changes. The team at Bletchley Park had been relying on the German's short weather codebook. Now, it has been changed, and the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park have no idea what to do about it. They need Tom Jericho -- but has he "recovered" enough to help? He remembers the head of the Naval Section stating that "the weight of our failure is measured in the bodies of drowned men."

What choice does Jericho have but to return to Bletchley Park? He must help his old team crack the new code and save lives. And maybe he'll see Claire again!

The mansion at Bletchley Park

Chapter Two: Cryptogram

Part 1:

On the way to Bletchley Park, Jericho remembers the cryptography classes he took and how he loved everything about the subject. He was offered a job at the Government Code and Cypher School. Soon, Britain declared war, and he was ordered to report to a place called Bletchley Park. Bletchley was a railway town about 50 miles west of Cambridge.

The compound at Bletchley Park consisted of the original mansion, plus huts built as offices for the workers. Tom was assigned to analyze encrypted German radio traffic. The first 8 months he spent there were pleasant. Then, in May 1940, the volume of wireless "traffic" increased dramatically. The work force grew to several thousand.

Part 2:

Jericho notices how BP has changed in the time he was away - there are now many office buildings, shelters, guard forts. Logie escorts Tom to his old work station in Hut 8. Jericho notices how strangely people look at him - they obviously didn't expect to ever see him again. One former co-worker in particular, Adam Pukowski, seems shocked to see him. Pukowski has a Polish father and a British mother.

Jericho is told that he is free to come and go as he pleases. All that's expected of him is inspiration and insight. The team hopes he can spot something they've missed. Pukowski seems irritated at this arrangement; Jericho wonders why.

Part 3:

The team at BP have at their disposal a roomful of captured Enigma machines. They are small, portable, and easy to operate. The message is typed on the machine, the ciphertext is spelled out. The receiver of the message simply has to set up his machine in the same way, type in the cryptogram, and the original text would appear.

The Enigma machine had only one flaw - it couldn't encipher a letter as itself. This helped the analysts, but the Germans knew that it would still take people much time to break the code - and, by then, the information would be useless. But the Germans didn't know that the analysts used machines called "bombes". This was the first time in history a cipher made on a machine was being broken by a machine.

The Shark Enigma machine, however, was unique because it had a fourth rotor. The engineers at BP had been laboring, without success, to build a 4-rotor "bombe". This is why the U-boat messages were 26 times more difficult to break than messages from surface ships. Jericho thinks, no wonder he had gone mad.

That night, on his way out of the canteen, he sees Claire. He tries to follow her, but looses her when he is stopped by a sentry and asked for i.d.

Part 4:

Jericho attends a briefing by a U.S. Admiral. It is announced that 3 convoys (over 100 merchant ships) have left New York, under military escort, on their way across the Atlantic. 10,000 people, including women and children, are aboard the ships.

Forty-six German subs are on the prowl. The experts think the subs will be within range of the convoy in about three days. Can the cryptanalysts pin-point the submarines' poisitons in time? The head of Jericho's team says it's possible. Then, the admiral asks Tom for his opinion. He is not optimistic because the Germans have just changed the weather code and, thus, the analysts have lot their key to breaking the code. Mr. Wigram wonders at the timing of the change and asks for a list people who know the importance of the weather code. Does he suspect that a member of the team had tipped off the enemy?

Jericho has made a mistake in being honest and outspoken. Skynner, the head of his department, lets him know that he will try to have him taken off cryptanalytical work. Tom is to be punished.

Chapter 3 - Pinch  (Tom meets Hester Wallace)

Part 1:

Tom moves into his new lodgings. His landlady observes the following about him: he is thin, pale and "bookish." His clothes are of good quality, but in a mess. He is pleasant, with good manners and a quiet voice.

Resting in his new room, Tom remembers meeting Claire. He had been presented with a 100 pound bonus check for the Shark breakthrough at HQ, and was on his way back to BP. He met Claire on the train. She noticed him staring at her and she sat next to him. The train compartments were so packed with passengers that Claire's shoulder and thigh pressed against his. He noticed that her face was striking rather than pretty. She has blonde hair and pearl-grey eyes. Tom impresses Claire with his ability to solve the anagrams and puzzles in the newspaper she had been reading.
[Back in the present] Awakening, Tom feels certain he dreamed of Claire so vividly because she must be thinking about him. He decides to bicycle to the cottage where she lives.

Part 2:

Arriving at the cottage, the door is opened by a 30-ish dark-haired woman. She wears glasses, is dressed in an overcoat and is holding a prayerbook.  She is obvoiously on her way out.  Tom remembers Claire mentioning a roommate named Hester Wallace, who works in Hut 6. Tom asks her if he can wait inside for Claire. She tells him no, and closes the door. He waits until she leaves and then lets himself into the cottage, using the key he knows is hidded outside.
The cottage contains two rooms on the ground floor - a sitting room and a kitchen. Two bedrooms are upstairs. Tom has only been here once before, and wonders why Claire chose to live here, as the cottage is a bit remote, damp and cold. Then, he remembers her telling him "Oh, but darling, it's so much better than having some ghastly landlady telling one what to do." Waiting for Claire in the sitting room, Tom thinks more about their first meeting:
They left the train together at BP. He found out that she is 20 years old, has worked at BP for three months, and hates it. Her father, who works at the Foreign Office, got her the job to keep her out of trouble. Claire found out that Tom has worked at BP for three years.
Claire asked Tom to meet her at that week's concert being held at BP. He did meet her, and she acted very interested in him, asking him to meet her again the next week. He told her he feels he is rather boring, but she said he is not. She has heard he is rather brilliant.
Claire asked a lot of questions on their second date: she asked about his family, if he had a current girlfriend. He found himself telling her things he had never talked about before. She also asked if he works in Hut 8. Isn't that the Naval Section? Tom realized he shouldn't talk about his work.
They met again the next week. This time, she told him about herself. Her mother died when she was six years old. She and her father moved from embassy to embassy, and she learned some languages along the way.
The week after that, they went to the cinema. During the movie, she linked her arm through his. He was in love. She asked him back to her place. Her room was crammed with clothes, hatboxes, shoe boxes, cosmetics. Tom was so flustered being in her bedroom that he retreated to the hallway and asked who occupied the other bedroom.
Claire tells Tom the other bedroom belongs to Hester Wallace, and tells him to take a look, as Hester is out. This room is in complete contrast to Claire's - it is like a cell - just a bed, a jug and bowl on a washstand, and some books piled on a chair.
Downstairs, Tom and Claire enjoy a drink - and each other.

Part 3:
[Back in the present]  Tom tires of waiting for Claire to return, and goes up to her room to search for clues to why she ended their relationship. He doesn't find anything interesting - at first. Then, he realizes a floorboard that used to creak, does not now, and is covered with a rug. He removes the floorboard and finds some papers. He expects them to be love letters. The papers are German radio transmissions from nine days ago! They are coded messages that Claire must have stolen from Hut 3!
Tom feels as though he has been punched in the stomach. He hears a sound from downstairs, and foolishly calls out, thinking it might be Claire. There is no answer. He runs downstairs just in time to see the red light of a bicycle vanish down the road. He sees large, male footprints in the ice.
Returning to the cottage, Tom puts things back the way they were - but takes the coded messages with him.

Chapter 4 - Kiss

Part I:
[Flashback to Tom and Claire]  He woke up in his room one morning to see Claire rummaging around. He asked what she was doing and she replied that she was going through his things. She looked through his wallet, his jacket, his trousers, his chest of drawers. It was like a game; he didn't stop her at first. Tom remembered that Claire had insisted they spend the night in his room this time, not at the cottage. Had she planned this in order to have the opportunity to search his room?
Claire found the bonus check in Tom's wallet and asked him if he got it for breaking a new code. Of course, he isn't supposed to talk about his work, and she should have known better than to ask. When Tom acted suspicious, she threw herself on the bed and broke down in sobs. Tom noted it did not seem like an act, it was like a fit. She was "somewhere beyond grief." He tried to comfort her. When she calmed down, she simply got up, dressed, and quietly left.
Tom felt guilty for acting suspicious and making Claire cry, then panicked that he might lose her. The next day he cashed his bonus check and bought a diamond ring. His messages to her, however, went unanswered.
At BP, all leave was cancelled as the cryptanalysts struggled to break codes.
Tom ran into Claire by chance a couple of weeks later on the grounds of BP. He insisted they take a walk together. He asked if she was seeing someone else and she replied, "I'm always seeing someone else." He was so desperate to keep her in his life that he offered to tell her everything she wanted to know about his work. She simply replied that she hoped he was not going to be a bore about everything. Tom gave her the ring, but she handed it back, saying it wasn't her style.

Part 2:
[Present - the morning after Tom has found the coded messages in Claire's room]  Tom knows he should have returned the messages to BP, but he can't bring himself to betray Claire. He thinks of all the possible reasons she took the messages - that she is being blackmailed, that she didn't know about the messages hidden in her room, that she is a spy. Why would someone steal coded messages that they couldn't read? A spy would want de-coded messages. He looks at the messages again, and realizes there is something strange about them - they are original transmissions, never labeled and processed for decoding.
Tom decides he has to give Claire a chance to explain. He goes to Hut 3, where she works. The only thing Tom knows about Hut 3 is that this is where the decoded messages of the German Army and the Luftwaffe are processed.
Tom sees Weizman, an acquaintance, who introduces him to Claire's supervisor, Miss Monk. When Tom says he is looking for Claire, Miss Monk replies that they are all trying to find Claire. She hasn't turned up for work today. Miss Monk relates that Claire has become more attentive lately. She reluctantly gives Tom the phone number of Claire's father.
Weizman tells Tom what goes on in the German Book Room of Hut 3, where Claire works. Intercepted German radio transmissions, the decode and the translation come together here to be filed. The German Book is a transcription of all decoded messages in their original language. Weizman comments that the girls who work in this area do a purely clerical job, but they see a great deal about the operational detail of the German armed forces.
Tom calls Mr. Romilly and informs him that Claire has not turned up for work, and that her co-workers are all worried. Mr. Romilly tells Tom he can't help him and hangs up abruptly. He is surprisingly unconcerned.

Part 3:
Tom seeks out Claire's roommate, Hester. As it is Sunday morning, he goes to the parish church, thinking Hester might be there. He is right - she's there. While he's waiting for the service to end, Tom thinks about what Claire had told him about Hester. Before the war, she had been a teacher at a girls' private school, she is a clergyman's daughter.
He approaches Hester after the service, and she catches him in a lie about attending church. He's not off to a good start with her! She says goodbye, and gets on her bicycle, but Jericho stops her from leaving. She is upset at his rude behavior and reluctantly agrees to listen to him.
Jericho takes a good look at Hester and decides that she could be pretty - if she tried. She has smooth, white skin and bright, intelligent eyes. She wore, however, a sarcastic expression.
Tom explains to Hester that he had been seeing Claire until about a month ago. He tells Hester that he thinks Claire has disappeared because she hasn't been seen since at least two a.m. When Hester asks how he knows this, Tom admits he broke into the cottage, waited for Claire, then saw a strange man running away from the cottage.
Hester is now concerned, but figures Claire slept somewhere else (with someone else), and says it's none of her business. In order to convince Hester that something is wrong, Tom asks if she knows what "ADU" means. It's a German call sign. Hester is shocked that Jericho is discussing Bletchley Park business so openly, but is now very curious about Claire's involvement.

Part 4:
Logie reprimands Tom for insubordination to Skynner. Tom pleads to be allowed to remain at BP. After all, they need him to help break Shark and save the American convoy of ships heading across the Atlantic. Of course, Tom knows the only way he'll find Claire is to stay at BP.
Jericho sees a chance to break the code - if a U-boat spots the Allied convoy, if it reports back every 2 hours, if the other U-boats do the same, if they intercept most every U-boat transmission, and if the Short Signal Book [recovered from a U-boat] hasn't been changed - then, they have a chance at cracking the code in a couple of days. They'll also be able to reconstruct the new weather codebook.

Part 5:
Hester Wallace can't sleep. She is still thinking about her conversation with Tom. ADU - she can't place it. She has been studying German, hoping this knowledge will help her get transferred out of the Intercept Control Room to the Machine Room, where the real work is done.
She hears a noise from the kitchen and goes downstairs. She notices that part of the latch on the window has been broken off. Someone had been trying to break in! She wonders what Claire had gotten herself involved in. Hester goes back upstairs and looks into Claire's room. It "resonates" with Claire, even now. Hester recalls previous conversations with Claire in that room, and guiltily realizes that she has felt an attraction to Claire.
Part 6:
Tom tries to call Claire's father again several times, but there is no answer. He calls the Foreign Office where Mr. Romilly works, but he is out. He does learn from the staff that Mr. Romilly works at the German Desk. Tom remembers that Claire had told him that her father had been an official at the Berlin embassy. This is where Claire must have learned German.
When Tom returns to his lodgings, he finds that a Douglas Wigram from the Foreign Office is waiting for him. Wigram informs Tom that Claire hasn't been seen since midnight on Friday. A gun and some amunition are also missing from the Home Guard hut. Wigram also tells Tom that, suddenly, the Germans have done an inquiry into cipher security and that Admiral Donitz has decided to tighten Enigma procedure by changing the U-boat weather code. Is it a coincidence that Claire has disappeared at this particular time? Wigram interrogates Tom about his relationship with Claire. He also asks about Tom's co-workers who know about the importance of the weather codebook.
After Wigram leaves, Tom burns the messages Claire had stolen. He's protecting her, but now how will he even find out the meaning of the messages? ["Tease" for the next chapter - he'll enlist Hester's help!]

Chapter 5 synopsis coming soon!