Code of Silence

the 6th Ben Reese mystery

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print cover

ebook cover

Code of Silence, a prequel to the Ben Reese series, begins in 1947 when a woman linguist at Arlington Hall (a real life high security US decoding and decrypting facility) is murdered trying to get vital information to Carl Walker, a ‘book breaker’ friend at Arlington Hall. Ten years later, Ben Reese, whose wife has just died, receives an unexpected letter from Walker, a distant acquaintance who’s disappeared, asking for his assistance in tracking a murderer who’s also guilty of breaching US security. An injury inflicted by the murderer makes Ben’s efforts to bring him in difficult and disturbing, but still worth the personal cost once he learns of the Venona Code, the real life Soviet code, partially decrypted by the US and Britain, which changes the way Ben views the world in the 30s and 40s.

Available as an ebook and in print from Amazon, and in print from B& and IndieBound

Author’s Note:

When I began working on Code of Silence, I knew next to nothing about codes and encryptions, and I found myself reading too many paragraphs too many times before they made sense.

I was helped in writing Code by several accomplished and interesting people who saved me from my own mistakes. John Earl Haynes, who, with Harvey Klehr, discovered the Soviet side of the Venona telegrams in the KGB archives, answered endless questions and put me in touch with Rowena Clough at the Cryptology Museum Foundation, where I got to interview two retired code breakers who’d worked at Arlington Hall, while Rowena guided me to the right materials and explained that world in detail.

John Haynes also introduced me to Robert Louis Benson, who’d released our Venona Code decryptions for the N.S.A. Lou let me interview him for hours on end, then read the manuscript at least twice, and met again to discuss it further.

This is a book I had to write. The Venona revelations contradict more than one popular myth with facts worth knowing.

As Philip K. Dick (author of many more prescient books than most of us realize) once said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

What They’re Saying:


Meticulously researched, skillfully conveying the ambience and paranoia of the Cold War years, and chock-a-block with suspense, Wright’s latest Ben Reese mystery will appeal to fans of both spy thrillers and mainstream mysteries.

Kirkus Reviews

An archivist finds danger in the past when a colleague sets him on the trail of a fugitive who isn’t afraid to kill when cornered. Since the death of his wife Jessie and their stillborn child three months ago, in March 1957, Ben Reese (Watches of the Night, 2008, etc.) has seldom left his house except to go to work at the Alderton University Library. One of the few excursions he does make is to the Columbus Symphony, where he plans to meet his friend Carl Walker, a loner who worked as a code-cracker in Arlington Hall during the World War II. When Carl doesn’t show, Ben shares his concern with Richard West, who’s hovered like a mother hen since Jessie died. Soon Ben finds a package on his desk containing two books and a mysterious note from Carl, whose body is found by the river with a gunshot wound that may or may not have been self-inflicted. Further notes lead Ben to a letter from Carl warning him about Bill Weisberg, who killed Carl’s fellow decrypter Miriam Gold and subsequently served a year in prison for espionage. Carl wants Ben to stop Weisberg, who threatens to resurface somewhere in the rural Ohio landscape. But Ben isn’t sure how to stop someone who lives in shadows, whose face he’s never seen and who seems bent on inflicting as much damage as he can. No mystery here at all, only mild suspense sprinkled with quaint bits of anti-Communism and anti-Semitism.