The Invisible Cipher

A NEIL GATLIN THRILLER (BOOK 1)TIC with pages-2017-web-lg

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The Invisible Cipher


After an impromptu assault sends him on the run, Neil Gatlin finds himself stranded in a small Illinois farm town where he learns to trustno one and fear all.

With no friends and little money in his pockets, Neil is desperate to return to Indiana and his pregnant girlfriend, Sunshine. Worried for her safety, Neil’s journey home hits a roadblock when he is framed for murder. With little possibility of rescue and everyone in town believing him guilty, he’s reliant on one unlikely ally.

As clues start to reveal the truth behind his unimaginable fate, he overhears schemes threatening to pull him into greater trouble. The only one with the skills to uncover a deadly plan by hardened criminals, Neil must take matters into his own hands and secretly decipher the messages.

But as Neil comes closer to the truth he must choose between doing the right thing and risking all he loves. Will Neil unlock the truth and return to Sunshine? Or will he be pulled into the evil plans of others, a creature of the dark, without Sunshine forever? One thing is for sure, Neil will never be the same.


“The Invisible Cipher is full of mystery, intrigue, and suspense that will keep
you at the edge of your seat. Smith has a unique way of developing dialogue
that tells a story in itself! A fast moving—never a dull moment kind of book!”  
— Elaine, Lynden, Washington


“The Invisible Cipher is the story of a man who has trouble doing things the
‘conventional way.’ Neil Gatlin is a lonely man pulled into a web of intrigue and
despair who finds that help and love can come from unlikely places. This engaging
story reminds the reader of the longing for acceptance that lives in every heart.”
— Shelly, Lewiston, Idaho


“My golly, girl, you have a great imagination. What an action packed book
with good knowledge of the basic setting in prison. I loved it.
Couldn’t hardly put it down.”
— John, Genesee, Idaho


Reader's Favorite 5 Star Review

Reviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite

The Invisible Cipher: A Jagged Journeys’ Novella, Book 1 is an action story by Ida Smith. Neil Gatlin is accustomed to bad luck and making poor decisions, but makes the effort to change when he is about to become a father. His unlucky streak deepens when he is accused of murdering a couple in a small town and stealing their car. The only people who believe Neil is innocent are his lawyer and a stranger named Leonard who visits him in jail and thinks he was framed. While in prison, a gang leader constantly bullies Neil and threatens to harm his girlfriend, Sunshine. He understands Morse code and secretly deciphers a dangerous scheme the gang leader is involved in. Neil wonders if he should alert the authorities or remain silent to save his life or others. Will the choice he makes change his luck for better or worse?

Ida Smith’s novella, The Invisible Cipher: A Jagged Journeys, Book 1, is a touching tale about a young man who really wants to live a normal, trouble-free life, but danger just seems to follow him. The story has light Christian undertones that are significant to the action-filled plot, with a few Bible scriptures used as examples in certain scenes. Numerous twists made The Invisible Cipher an even more interesting and suspenseful story. The situation that Neil found himself in could happen to anyone, giving the story a realistic feel. Ida Smith writes very descriptively and did a great job creating this lovely story. I enjoyed this novella.



Neil Gatlin traveled the back roads, hoping to avoid state police and other law enforcement. He’d managed to slip out of Missouri undetected and was now inching his way through Illinois, he just had to make it to Indiana before Sunshine had her baby.

By the level on the gas gauge he knew skirting around Cleavemont wasn’t an option and he didn’t dare try siphoning gas during the day. If only ol’ Gorgons hadn’t caught him slipping a few twenties from the till. Hadn’t he worked for it? He’d tried to explain to Gorgons that he needed the money now, he couldn’t wait around ‘til pay day. But Gorgons wouldn’t hear of it and threatened to make Neil pay with the sweat of his brow—sure that Neil had stolen money and tools on other occasions.

What could Neil do but run? The smell of gasoline interrupted his justification. The gas gauge on his 1950’s International pickup showed a fifth left.

The smell nauseated him. Before he could open the passenger window, the engine sputtered to a stop. He coasted to the roadside and tried the engine again. It started but stopped a few minutes later and wouldn’t restart.

A look under the hood revealed gas under the diaphragm. His fuel pump was shot.

He slammed the hood shut. Why did this have to happen now? He stared across the miles of fields. He’d push his truck into the field and hide it if the corn was higher. A short walk into town, catch the bus and he’d be gone. The police wouldn’t be looking for him on a bus.

He kicked the truck. Abandoning it here would be foolish. They’d find it and start asking around. A stranger in a small town would stand out in a bus station with few if any customers. As soon as they found his truck he was as good as caught.

He could hitchhike, though the idea of some nosey stranger’s questions already raised a sweat. How could he come up with a believable story under pressure? He’d never been any good at lying. Give him time, sure he could devise a story, but not under pressure.

Neil marveled at his choice of routes. The good and bad was that no one would find him. He thought of the forty-seven dollars he had. Money he’d saved for Sunshine and the baby he now needed to fix his truck so he could get home and announce that once again, he’d failed. At least she had the fifty he’d sent a few weeks ago.

He might as well hoof it to that farm house. He grabbed his knapsack from the cab, slammed the door, and set out to the farm he’d seen several miles back. “Maybe they can help,” he mumbled unbelieving.

He looked at the western sky. Why did it seem he was always headed backwards?

Copyright © 2015 by Ida Smith


The Invisible Cipher (A Jagged Journeys' Novella Book 1)

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Set in north Idaho, Eleanor and her family are somewhat sheltered from the life-changing effects of the Great Depression. Until the morning the dog would not stop barking.

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