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    Review of THE GIVENCHY CODE by Julie Kenner (see her website)

    Downtown Press, May 2005

    Melanie Prescott, a typical Manhatten twenty-something with money issues, man issues, and a weakness for high-priced designers, is suddenly thrust into a frightening game of cat-and-mouse when someone begins sending her coded messages. At first she ignores them--until her tormenter commits an unspeakable act of violence to get her attention, convincing her to play the game--or else. "The game" is "Play.Survive.Win," an addictive computer game that has suddenly come to life. Now, rather than chasing clues around on a computer screen to avoid being virtually assassinated, Mel is dodging real bullets and calling on her math skills and her love for codes and cyphers to keep her alive.

    Also keeping her alive is Matthew Stryker, an ex-Marine with a few specialized skills of his own who is another unwilling participant in the life-or-death game. His assigned role is to protect Mel's life. As the two race around New York following the cryptic clues, from ferry boats to train stations to graveyards, churches and high-couture shops, they can't help but fall in love.

    Although the premise of this book seemed highly unlikely at first, I confess I got sucked in. The author made it seem all too real, all too possible, and the clues, codes and cyphers were neither too obscure nor too easy (at least for me). I found myself trying to figure them out myself, and though I never fully succeeded, sometimes I was on the right track. This was a fast read, the plot moving right along, with likable characters and a satisfying if slightly anti-climactic ending. (When the rest of the book was so clever, I was really expecting a brain-twister at the end.) Still, I just loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves codes and puzzles, New York, shopping, or romance.

    See more reviews of novels by Julie Kenner.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 1/13/06

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