Book Cipher - Examples - in Fiction

In Fiction

  • In The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes decrypts a message enciphered with a book cipher by deducing which book had been used as a key text.
  • The name of Ken Follett's World War II thriller The Key to Rebecca refers to a German spy in Cairo using Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca as the basis of a code.
  • In A Presumption of Death, Lord Peter Wimsey, on assignment for British Intelligence in World War II Nazi-occupied Europe, uses a code based on the works of John Donne. The Germans, suspecting that an intelligence service in which Oxonians have a major role would choose a classical work of English literature, systematically try such works until hitting the right one and breaking the code, coming near to catching the spy. Wimsey then improvises a new code, based on an unpublished text known only to himself and his wife.
  • Graham Greene's protagonists often use book codes. In The Human Factor, several books are used, and an edition of Charles Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare is used in Our Man in Havana.
  • A book cipher plays an important role in the TV version of Sharpe's Sword. The key text is Voltaire's Candide.
  • In the 2004 film National Treasure, an Ottendorf cipher is discovered on the back of the U. S. Declaration of Independence, using the "Silence Dogood" letters as the key text.
  • The protagonists of the Matthew Reilly novel The Six Sacred Stones used a book cipher to send confidential messages to each other. The key text was the Harry Potter books, but the messages were sent via a The Lord of the Rings forum to make the key text harder to identify.
  • In Lost: Mystery of the Island, a series of four jigsaw puzzles released in 2007, Ottendorf cipher was used on each puzzle's box to hide spoilers and reveal information about the show to the fans.
  • "The Fisher King", a two-part episode of Criminal Minds, features an Ottendorf cipher brought to the Behavioral Analysis Unit by the UNSUB via Agent Hotchner's wife. The cypher was part of a larger puzzle to find a girl who had been missing for two years. The key text was The Collector by John Fowles.
  • Burn Notice (episodes "Where There's Smoke" and "Center of the Storm", 2010): Michael Westen steals a Bible from a safe deposit box that is the code book of Simon. This becomes part of the season plot to track an organization starting wars for profit as Michael tries to arrange an interview with Simon.
  • In the film Unknown (2011), Prof. Bressler's passwords are obscured by an Ottendorf cipher.
  • In The Unit episode "Paradise Lost", Jonas Blane (aka Snake Doctor) uses a book code from the poem Paradise Lost to communicate to his wife, Molly, that he has arrived safely in Panama.
  • In "The Good Soldier Švejk" by Jaroslav Hašek, the title character's commanding officers attempt to use a book cipher. Their attempts are undone, however, when it is revealed that the novel in question is composed of two volumes, and Švejk has delivered the first volume to the officers, thinking that they intended to read the novel, rather than the second, where the code is ciphered from.

Read more about this topic:  Book Cipher, Examples

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