The Electrician's Code

I owe Clarissa Draper a huge apology. My mind has been so totally elsewhere while working on the Secrets of Honor edits that it's affecting other things I do. Like the title of this post.

In both the title and in referring to Clarissa's new book in the second paragraph below, I called the book The Engineer's Code. Clarissa is so gracious that she didn't correct me. I only learned of it today (Wednesday) from a commenter, who I've thanked.

The correct title of Clarissa Draper's new book is The Electrician's Code.


I spent the weekend sprucing up the joint because today we have a special guest taking refuge Under the Tiki Hut from the hot summer sun. She writes awesome and smart code-based mysteries featuring London detectives Theo Blackwell and Sophia Evans. Her first novel, The Sholes Key, was so good - even though I couldn't figure out any of the codes :)

Now Theo and Sophia are back now in the newly released The Electrician's Code.

Are you wondering who this fantastic and brilliant author is? Her name is Clarissa Draper. And here she is.

Carol, thank you for having me. It's such a pleasure to be here. I have enjoyed reading your thrilling mysteries over the past few years. 

Today I want to talk about codes and ciphers.

If you have read my books, you know I love to add a challenge to each one in the form of a code or cipher to solve. Some of my readers like to play along, hoping to solve the messages before the detectives. But, I'm not the first to do this. 

There have been many codes placed in famous stories. Let's look at just five:

(1) Edgar Allen Poe's "The Gold-Bug" - The story involves cryptography with a detailed description of a method for solving a simple substitution cipher using letter frequencies. The cryptogram is:

(2) Sherlock Holmes "The Dancing Men" - Sherlock homes sets to solve a series of notes. The code looks a lot like the photo above.

(3) Agatha Christie's "The Four Suspects" - In this short story, the killer receives instructions by coded message. This story uses a flower code.

(4) Robert Harris's "Enigma" - This story is about a mathematician trying to break the famous German "Enigma" codes. 

(5) Dan Browns' "The Da Vinci Code" - This is one of the most famous code books written. In the book, the main character tries to de-crypt a message found beside a dead body. There is also a note containing a Fibonacci sequence left out of order, as a code.

Based on the code in the story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" I have created a message. If you can decipher it, I will give you a free E-copy of my book. 

What codes did you find interesting in a novel you've read?

Clarissa Draper lives in Mexico with her family, and can be reached via her blog, or on Twitter at

The Electrician's Code

**Please visit the book's website to view photos of the codes and lots of story extras.**

An elderly man with only one leg is murdered and left in a pool of his own blood outside his house. To add to the mystery, a note found in his pocket says, 'Why Run Backwards You’ll Vomit.' London Detective Chief Inspector Theo Blackwell can’t understand the motive for killing the old man, or the meaning of the cryptic message.

Later, a woman is stabbed on her doorstep. The two seemingly unrelated cases have two things in common: apparently random victims and suspects with alibis.

As DCI Blackwell works on solving the cases, he requests the help of code-breaker Sophia Evans, who is battling a personal and tricky case of her own.

Find her latest book here: 

I just want to say that I can't solve any of these codes either :)
But I already have Clarissa's book on my Kindle
and am really looking forward to reading it.
Get your copy today!


Clarissa Draper said…
Thanks for hosting me, Carol. I know the thought of codes and mathematics scare people but I hope someone out there finds the "Dancing Men" code I created crackable.
Liza said…
I am terrible about solving riddles, or codes, but I always enjoy reading along while a main character does the hard work. Congratulations, Clarissa!
Clarissa Draper said…
Thanks, Liza. Yeah, it's not everyone's cup of tea.
Too early for codes for me. Congratulations on the release, Clarissa!
L. Diane Wolfe said…
I'm really good at math, but codes are just beyond me. Congrats, Clarissa.
Anonymous said…
I may not be able to crack the code but those dancing men sure look happy.
Mason Canyon said…
Codes are fun, but I usually take a long time with them. I'm in awe of those who can look at codes and understand them in a matter of minutes. It's also fun to follow along with a character as they unlock the key to the code. Clarissa, congratulations on another amazing book.
Clarissa Draper said…
They are stick men but they were sure difficult to draw.
Margot Kinberg said…
Lovely to see you here, Clarissa! Carol, thanks for hosting! This post makes me think of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Dancing Men, of course. And of Dorothy Sayers' Have His Carcase. There's a solid cipher there, too.
Clarissa Draper said…
Margot, I was going to add her code to the list but I didn't want the most getting too long. Sayers is a great mystery writer.
"The Dancing Men" is my favorite coded puzzle since I love Sherlock Holmes! Great guest post Carol.
Carol Kilgore said…
Great to see everyone here. We have Mimosas and Migas at the bar if anyone is interested :)
Slamdunk said…
Thanks Carol and Clarissa. I'll have my teen son look at the codes--he enjoys stuff like that.

Not from a story, but our favorite real life unbroken code story is the Beale Ciphers found in the 19th century in Virginia. All that silver out there waiting for someone to crack the code :).
Hey, Carol and Clarissa. I'm not good at codes, but love to see how they are solved.
Jemi Fraser said…
I really enjoyed Clarissa's 1st book and am looking forward to this one! :)
I'd make a lousy police detective, because I tuned out immediately after seeing these complex codes. But if you need a detective who can watch cartoons in his underwear and eat TV dinners, then I'm your man.
I've read that Sherlock and have read "Da Vinci"--great, great stories. And I'm lousy at figuring out codes, although I'm fascinated by them. Congratulations to you on your book!
Robin said…
Yikes. These codes are a mystery to me. Sherlock Holmes I am not!
Angela Brown said…
I'm rather terrible when it comes to code breaking. I tend to find it intimidating when I see it but I'm in awe at those who can read, review and score the answer.

Congrats on our new book Clarissa :-)
Clarissa Draper said…
@Maurice Mitchell
Thank! I found the code fascinating.

Coding is so much fun but I know a lot of people don't care much for it. I'll have to look at that Virginian code.

@Teresa Powell Coltrin
Some people are really great at code breaking. I'm so jealous.

@Jemi Fraser
Thanks! It means a lot to me.

@A Beer For The Shower
You said "if you need a detective who can watch cartoons in his underwear and eat TV dinners, then I'm your man." I'll keep that in mind. ;)

Thank you!

It's so nice to know that there are people who can excel at many different things. Some can write, some do mathematics.

@Angela Brown
Thank you!
Congratulations Clarissa.
Codes fascinate me - but I need an interpretor. Neither of my brain cells seem to function that way.
Clarissa Draper said…
Thank you, Elephant's Child.
Southpaw said…
I like puzzles but I have to be in the right frame of mind.

Congrats Clarissa.
Ava Quinn said…
Great post, ladies.

My husband enjoys shift cyphers. I'm not much for codes, but your books sound very interesting!
L.G. Smith said…
Very cool. My MC gets some experience as a spy and has to learn how to code messages. Fun stuff.

And great examples of other books using codes too.
Helena said…
This book sounds like so much fun! Sometimes my brain gets codes a little quickly, other times it's stumped -- I'm not consistent and I don't know why. But the codes on your website look like a fun challenge, so I'll tackle them tomorrow (I'm falling asleep right now and can barely remember how to spell).

Congratulations on your new book!
Shelley Munro said…
I don't think I've read a book with codes in before. All the best with your new release, Clarissa.

Hi, Carol :)
I hope you'll let us know when the case is solved! Congrats Clarissa!

Carol Kilgore said…
Good morning, everyone! Coffee and breakfast goodies on tap this morning :)
Clarissa Draper said…
Just to let everyone know, Slamdunk and his brilliant son solved the code! The answer was: NO PROBLEM DECRYPTING THE CODE. I hope you enjoy my book, Slamdunk!
Carol Kilgore said…
Oh, how cool is that! Congrats from me, too!
Clarissa, you're brilliant. I can begin to wrap my brain around codes in books, much less incorporate the concept in my writing. I wish I could. It looks like fun.

Thank you, ladies.
Anonymous said…
Congrats to Clarissa. Codes look difficult, but are intriguing. I only knew the one in Poe's work.
Slamdunk said…
Thanks again for the fun challenge and the prize Clarissa and Carol.
Linda G. said…
Looks like a great book! I love reading books with codes, though I'm not the best at solving them.
Melissa said…
Ha! And I thought this was a post about Handyman... :P

Congratulations, Clarissa. Entertaining article. :)
I am not the world's best riddle-solver lol. I do love codes though! Nice to meet you Clarissa :)
Crystal Collier said…
Yay for Clarissa! I used to make up codes and alternate languages when I was younger. They got difficult enough in the end that they were pretty impossible to break--because they were based on phonemes rather than letters...but I digress.
Carol Kilgore said…
Melissa - I wondered what you meant ... so I looked back up and had a moment of pure panic. I can't believe I did that. That's what I get for not proofing. I also can't believe I didn't notice until it was pointed out. Thank you, thank you! Going to fix it pronto.

And this is a show vs. tell about why I always use more than one editor on a project :)
Clarissa Draper said…
Electrician's/Engineer's, ah, it's pretty much the same. ;) I'm not worried about it. I didn't even notice myself. It actually makes more sense that an Engineer created the code.
Carol Kilgore said…
Clarissa - If you didn't notice, I don't feel quite so bad. Melissa's comment made me go back and look to see what reminded her of Live-In Handyman ... who is an engineer.
I think it was just your subtle hint that she needs to write a companion novel. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Stina - Of course :)
(why didn't i think of that LOL)
Lexa Cain said…
What an amazing collection of codes. I loved the "dancing man" pics! So funny looking and cute! Wishing Clarissa much success with her exciting new book! :)
LD Masterson said…
I love trying to work out codes but I'll spend way too much time on it if I let myself. I'm looking forward to reading The Electrician's Code.

Pssst, Carole - you can always claim you thought he was an electrical engineer.
klahanie said…
Hi Carol and Clarissa,

I found myself zapped over here. The Electricians Code. I wonder if electricians talk about "current" events?

Don't know about codes or much of anything else at two in the morning.

Congrats to Clarissa. I have to go now and pack more boxes. Yikes and yuck!

Denise Covey said…
I can't conceive of breaking codes, but I fully admire those who can. I am in the process of reading Clarissa's second book and thankfully, not understanding codes doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the tale.

Hi Carol. Hi Clarissa. All the best to both of you in your mystery writing.

Denise Covey said…
I can't conceive of breaking codes, but I fully admire those who can. I am in the process of reading Clarissa's second book and thankfully, not understanding codes doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the tale.

Hi Carol. Hi Clarissa. All the best to both of you in your mystery writing.

Carol Kilgore said…
Lexa - I thought those little guys were cute, too :)

LD - Smacking forehead! Where was my brain?

Gary - Current events? Shocking!

Denise - Exactly the same for me. Thanks for your good wishes :)
cleemckenzie said…
I am the worst at code breaking, but Marissa's books sounds very exciting. I'd love to find out what's inside that cover.

Also, thank you for screwing up the title, Carol. You have no idea how good you've made me feel. Not that you screwed up, but that I'm not alone doing that.
DMS said…
I love codes- even if I can't always solve them. They are fun to try to solve and I love when books include them for the reader. It makes me feel like I am part of the book.

Wishing Marissa the best of luck! The Electrician's Code sounds excellent.
Carol Kilgore said…
Lee - You're welcome - my pleasure - LOL!

Jess - I'm the same way.
Anonymous said…
I like codes and puzzles. Sounds like a good one. And good on you, Carol, for supporting a fellow writer.
Carol Kilgore said…
Milo - We're all in this together. I'm happy to support other writers.