Pick of the Paperbacks

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE CHISHOLM

ENIGMA by Robert Harris (Arrow, [pounds sterling]5.99)

THIS class-act of a thriller takes the true story of the race to decode the Enigma cipher used by the German U-boats and turns it into such a compelling read that I almost missed my stop on the Tube. It is 1943 and young Tom Jericho has been plucked out of the cloistered environs of Cambridge and plunged into the nightmare world of the mansion in Middle England where thousands of mathematical boffins are cooped up in the battle to save the Atlantic convoys. The strange surreal world of Shark, ADU, whispers and star-nets is brilliantly recreated - as is Tom's obsession with the mysterious Claire.

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE 1820-1910

by Cecil Woodham-Smith

(Constable, [pounds sterling]12.95)

ATTEMPTS have been made recently to demolish the saintly reputation of this eminent Victorian - without success. The Lady with the Lamp may have been driven by demons rather than by the pure, unadulterated desire to do good, but as this marvellous biography from 1950 shows, nothing can take away from what she achieved to transform the care of the wounded and the sick. Ms Woodham-Smith was the first to show that this `Saint' was created out of the `petty grinding tyranny of a good English family' - but also the first to create a convincing portrait of an extraordinarily determined woman, who when she arrived in the Crimea in 1854 faced over more than 1,000 men with acute diarrhoea and only 20 chamber-pots. …