Digital Fortress - Book Summary
by Dan Brown
"Pure genius...Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and accomplished writers in the country."
– Nelson Demille
"One hell of a read. A gripping mix of murder and myth."
– New York Daily Times
The book presents the TRANSLTR, a code breaker computer.
The action starts with the computer facing an issue with an unbreakable code called Digital Fortress, which was created by an ex NSA employee, Ensei Tankado.
Commander Trevor Strathmore reaches out to the NSA’s head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, for help.
The story behind the TRANSLTR, is that Tankado helped to build it, but was unhappy when he realised that the NSA would be able to use the computer to read the emails of private citizens and saw this as a violation of human rights. He quit his job and threatened to go public about this. He gets captured and deported to Japan. This was publicized and his reputation was ruined.
Tankado left Japan and gave a copy of the passcode, that could unlock Digital Fortress, to an anonymous third party known only as North Dakota. If anything should happen to Tankado, North Dakota is to publish the passcode, making it free to everyone. Later Tankado is found dead.
In a desperate attempt to discover Tankado's secret partner, Strathmore asks Susan to trace the email that was for was send to NDekota. But turn out that they are the same person, as "NDAKOTA" is an anagram of "Tankado."
Susan gets upset when she finds out that Strathmore sent her fiance, David, who is a private citizen, to Spain. He was instructed to retrieve all of Tankado's personal belongings.
David finds out that a ring had been removed from Tankado's finger and begins to trace the ring. Starting with the Spanish officer who found Tankado, that points him to a Canadian tourist, who tells him a German and his female escort took the ring. David locates the German and his escort. The woman tells David that she gave the ring to a teenage girl in the park, who wanted to buy a plane ticket.
David goes to the airport and retrieves the ring from the girl. He later finds her dead and discovers he has an assassin following him. He manages to escape the assassin but gets shot with a stun gun by two government agents who put him in the back of their van along with the body of the assassin.
Susan realizes that Strathmore hired an assassin when she read the messages from Strathmore's pager and found that David, along with several other victims, has been murdered.
The book has also some chapters from Strathmore's perspective. He was in love with Susan, and he had a plan to become a hero in an attempt to win her, but the plan backfired because the virus was destroying the TRANSLTR.
When Susan confronts him, he begs her to understand. When the TRANSLTR explodes Strathmore gets in flames and Susan manages to escape and finds herself in the underground corridors of the NSA.
The Director of the NSA finds and brings Susan into the underground chamber where the main databank is located. The virus that Strathmore let into the system is actually a worm that will destroy the main databank, allowing public access to classified government information. Susan says that the kill code must be engraved on a ring that belonged to Tankado. At the direct orders, David is brought and Susan is filled with joy to see him alive.
From the ring, David discovers the difference between the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, Isotope 235, and the Nagasaki nuclear bomb, Isotope 238 was 3. The passcode was a reference to bombs that killed Tankado’s mother and crippled him in an earlier attack on America.
Bonus: Decrinted code from the last page.
Note: Some pieces of information are left out of the book.
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