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The Cryptographer [Paperback]

Tobias Hill
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Aug 2003
John Law is Anna's latest client, and her most formidable challenge. The 'Cryptographer', people call him. He is mysterious and charming, the world's first quadrillionaire, the inventor of an unbreakable code, the creator of the world’s first great electric currency. In the new millennium, it is no longer quite acceptable to admire the rich. But Law is both distrusted and admired more than most, more than Anna understands. That will have to change. Rule number one: information is the inspector’s greatest weapon. And Anna needs to know - what is it that a man like John Law would seek to hide, and why? From the acclaimed author of Underground and The Love of Stones, The Cryptographer is a brilliant vision of the London of tomorrow and an unforgettable story of codes, love and money. 'A supremely elegant and ambiguous thriller.' Sunday Times 'Hill at his finest and most compressed . . . Every page is like a heartbeat in the elongated story of a life, each beat essential, each word a nanosecond of barely unskippable breath. Engage, and you're hooked . . . [He] is that rarity, a novelist who gets better with every book. He makes reading a joy.' Scotsman 'An intelligent, brooding novel that lingers in the mind.' Daily Mail 'Hill has a real feel for language, but a great talent for keeping his readers hooked, too. This novel about 'loves, codes and money' looks set to hook him even more fans.' The Times 'One of the two or three most original and interesting novelists working in Britain today.' A. S. Byatt, Guardian

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (7 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571218369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571218363
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 12.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,955,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'A supremely elegant and ambiguous thriller.' Sunday Times; 'A remarkable poetic imagination.' Independent on Sunday" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tobias Hill was born in London. In 2003 the TLS nominated him as one the best young writers in Britain: in 2004 he was selected as one of the country's Next Generation poets and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. His collection of stories, Skin, won the Pen-Macmillan Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. The Cryptographer, his third novel, led AS Byatt to observe that "Hill is one of the two or three most original and interesting young novelists working in Britain today...There is no other voice today quite like this."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed 27 July 2004
By P
Having read and greatly enjoyed 'Love of Stones' by the same author I didn't hesitate to buy 'The Cryptographer'. While enjoying it in many ways and not regretting reading it, I still felt it could have been so much better.
First the good news. The prose is beautiful, evocative and poetic and reveals an author of insight and great imagination. The plot, set some decades into the future, offers up an exciting and thought-provoking view of what may be not far around the corner for all of us. There is much that strikes home especially relating to the nature of integrity and sincerity and the role of money in our lives. The cryptographer himself is a Great Gatsby style of character with much of his enigmatic allure.
The not so good. The book struck me as rather sparse. The future world is drawn in outline rather than detail. The relationships are sometimes simplistic and not fully explored. The plot tended to stretch credulity too much : would the world's richest man's tax anomalies be investigated by a single Inland Revenue inspector going for a chat with the man himself (who then of course is strongly attracted to her) rather than a team of inspectors wrestling with an army of accountants and never getting near the great man? Ultimately (and not without some irony considering the themes of the book) it didn't ring true.
That said, I would in spite of everything recommend this book. Read it and judge for yourself. There is certainly enough to be admired in there, a mixture of beguiling writing and evocative ideas. This is clearly a most talented writer and I will seek out his future offerings. It's just that instead of good it could have been great.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great atmosphere, absent plot 16 Aug 2004
By A Customer
This book is well-written and Tobias Hill's writing is closer to poetry than prose, building an atmosphere which is extremely real and intense.
But when it comes to structure and plot - this book is totally weak. It's not a thriller, as it is described on the cover, and it lacks any significant story. Plus, it really beggars belief at times - If tax inspectors carry out their work like the protagonist does, then they'd hardly get anything done. And I doubt that clients would be so friendly and so easily approachable, receiving tax inspectors at home!!!Very very very unlikely.
Looks like the poetry is achieved at the expense of the story-line. Basically, this book is like a ball of candy-floss: interesting and full of colour to look at, but it fizzles down to nothing in the mouth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Implodes halfway through 2 April 2008
By Tom
Having read the Love of Stones I was looking forward to a book that should have been perfect for me, he's a great writer and the plot sounded like it had huge potential. Unfortunately, halfway through the novel he seems to run out of ideas and the rest is a rather limp falling-away that made me feel like I had to go back through it and see if I'd skipped a few pages. A big disappointment considering how talented the author is.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre Meets Graham Greene - 8 Aug 2003
By A Customer
according to the Scotland on Sunday, at least - a strong claim for the work of a comparatively young writer. I am responding to the tide of acclamation having read Hill's novel twice in two days, and having no experience of his previous work.
It is possible to split hairs with those who acclaim 'The Cryptographer', but it would be perverse to disagree that this is a profound, moving and unerringly powerful piece of work. Hill's strengths are multiple: his characterisation is skilled, his dialogue is pitch-perfect, his plotting is ingenious (this to my mind being more Le Carre than anything else in the book), his description superb. On top of all that, his writing is in itself unforgettable. I am not a keeper of books, but I suspect this slim novel will retain its place on my shelves for many, many years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter Rubbish 21 Sep 2010
This is the worst book I have ever read. I fnished it because it had such good reviews that I thought it may be worth it in the end.... it wasn't. The author is able to put together some decent prose but I found it pretentious and the characters completely uninteresting. The main character being a tax inspector did not inspire confidence. Utter rubbish in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Soporific 3 Mar 2010
I have read zillions of books of all types, and only left two unfinished. This was not one of these two, simply because it was one of the set books for an English exam I was taking and I thought I should at least read it all. So, having read it, I can tell this is the worst book I have ever read. When it started it looked as if it could be a good story. Buf after some pages, I felt totally indifferent about those insipid characters and what might happen to them. They seemed to be going nowhere, and I could not care less. Now I read that some customers say the prose is beautiful... It may be. The weakeness of all the rest hid that from me. Do not waste your time and money on this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps a little too cryptic.... 5 Aug 2004
By Brolyn
Hill is undoubtedly a gifted prose writer, and I was even quite gripped with the plot, until the last few pages when everything seemed to stop rather than end.
Style triumphs over substance though in the end. If this novel is ever filmed, Harold Pinter would be my choice to write the screenplay. Then every pause and longeur will become even more pregnant with meaning.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disapointing, do not recommend
I had high hopes for 'The Cryptographer as it was highly recommended for my book club read this month. Read more
Published 22 months ago by TReed
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethereal
This book will stay with you long after you have read it. Although written several years ago now, it has never been more relevant. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2010 by Faith
4.0 out of 5 stars Blemished, but a gem nonetheless
The prose is deft in this slow-moving, mood-rich story about tax inspector Anna Moore assigned to investigate the world's richest man. Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2008 by Wobbly Wellies
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst yet
This has got to be the worst book I have ever read, I wonder why I stuck it out until the end. I am amazed that this could get 5 stars off other readers, I struggled even to give... Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2007 by Mak
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow Burn
I found this a disconcerting book partly I think because, like other posters, I thought the novel didn't match the cover picture or cover description. Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2007 by Bellamyisking
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel about greed, generosity and love
Anna Moore is a thirty-six year old tax inspector living in London in the year 2021. As she states at the beginning of the story her job is to measure the worth of people. Read more
Published on 21 Dec 2006 by HORAK
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of ideas
An enthralling narrative. Please note that as a professional author myself, I do not read novels for their plots, which I inevitably find myself unravelling long ahead of their... Read more
Published on 18 Dec 2006 by Mechdan
5.0 out of 5 stars An original that has stayed with me all year
this is a really strange book to try and describe. It isn't a thriller and it isn't exactly a romance. It might be science fiction (I wouldn't really know) or just a novel. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2006 by muffinhead
4.0 out of 5 stars Original
An original and engaging, if not particularly easy, take on materialism and romance.

The scene is set some time in the future, with a revenue inspector delegated to... Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2006 by G. L. Haggett
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in ages
I read a lot, and enjoy many books. I don't have a particular genre that I stick to. That may be why I like this book so much - it is genre-defying. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2006 by AKC
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