Compassion International

Thursday, December 5, 2013



Secret codes are more than fiction in SHADOW CATCHER. There is a real secret message encrypted into the acknowledgements using a 150-year-old cipher technique.

If you're the first to crack it, you'll win a $200 Visa gift card!

Maybe you've already read SHADOW CATCHER and you thought the acknowledgements section sounded a bit gushy. You were right. I meant everything I said, but I also embedded a secret code in the first paragraph, and that requires some particular phrasing. Now I'm offering a prize package to the first person to crack my code.

The winner will receive:
  • A signed, numbered copy of SHADOW CATCHER (one of the fifty given to me by Berkley Books)
  • A signed WRAITH audio book
  • A collectible WRAITH hardcover signed on 9/11/11, AND...
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card

This will not be easy. Let's just say I have some experience with codes and codebreaking and I'm pretty good at it, but I hid everything you need within the pages of SHADOW CATCHER. To give you a boost, here's the first hint:

I used a Playfair cipher to encode the message. Lord Playfair's favored method has been adapted several times over the years, but I used the one currently shown on Wikipedia to make things a little easier. You can find it in the article linked to this phrase. A Playfair key looks something like the sample grid on the left. I'll let you read the article and learn how to make one.  

Just to be clear, this sample is NOT the grid you need.

The puzzle pieces that will help you create the key grid and find the ciphertext in the acknowledgments are hidden in the book. In fact, there are additional clues hidden throughout the book that should lead you to those puzzle pieces.

Now, this is a competition and there is a prize to be won, so here are the ground rules:
  1. The physical book has no bearing on the clues. You can crack the code with a Kindle version just as well as you can crack it with a paperback, as long as you have the acknowledgements and the text of the novel. In case you bought the audiobook - which does not have the
    acknowledgements - I will include the first paragraph of the acknowledgements below.
  2. Only one prize will be given. Teamwork is always encouraged, but if you work with a partner, you'll have to split the spoils.
  3. I will release periodic hints via the Stealth Ops app. It's free and has a lot of Nick Baron extras, so check it out.
  4. To win: Be the first to message me with the decoded message via the James R. Hannibal Facebook Page. You will need to send the two words of the decoded message as well as the next two decoded letters that follow them. 
The format will look like, "Drink Ovaltine YZ."
Remember to message me. Don't post the answer on the main page.

Okay. Get Cracking.

God Speed,
James R. Hannibal

SHADOW CATCHER Acknowledgements first paragraph:

An army of selfless heroes carried this work from idea to publication.  Cynthia, my wife, is the greatest hero of all. She is my inspiration and my unwavering encourager. This beautiful, amazing woman counseled me through fits and frustration and she patiently read a hundred drafts of the same story, still remembering to laugh at every joke. Next and much more imposing is my best friend John Carroll, who listens, critiques, sacrifices, makes fantastic book trailers, and never gloats when he outshoots me at the range. Surrounding the three of us, and comprising the beating heart of this army of heroes is my family from both sides of the aisle. I am blessed to have more support and love to bolster my military service and my personal endeavors than any man I know.

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