The Codebreaker’s Secret


This historical novel unfolds across two different time periods, 1943 Honolulu and 1965 Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, blending codebreaking secrets, murder, and romance. It follows two women: Isabel Cooper, a skilled cryptanalyst working to defeat the Japanese Army after her brother’s death during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Lu Freitas, a rookie journalist for Sunset magazine.

Isabel’s concerns heighten when her fellow female codebreaker, Gloria, vanishes from Station Hypo. Meanwhile, in 1965, Lu is assigned to cover the highly anticipated opening of Rockefeller’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. When singer Joni Diaz disappears, she teams up with a veteran photograph to investigate.

As a fan of books featuring strong female leads, I appreciated the narratives of two intelligent, talented, and courageous protagonists. The beautiful Hawaiian setting reminded me of my own vacations there, and Ackerman skillfully conveyed a strong sense of time and place. While the book provided entertainment, I never became fully invested in the story.

I’m tiring of historical fiction using dual timelines, and I believe it is time for authors to explore alternative storytelling approaches. I struggled to form a connection with the many characters present in the narrative. The ending felt abrupt. Although this wasn’t great in my opinion, it’s still worth the read. Fans of historical romance (heavy on romance) will probably enjoy it more than I did—it just wasn’t meaty enough for me. I’ll give the author another chance, but this book earns a three-star rating from me. Other reviewers have had a more positive experience, so I encourage readers to make their own judgment.

** Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions are my own.

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