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The Dakota Cipher Q&A

William Dietrich author

Q: “The Rosetta Key” was a sequel to “Napoleon’s Pyramids.” Does “The Dakota Cipher” mean you have a series on your hands?
A: Yes, Ethan Gage is back for this adventure set in France, Italy, and America in 1800 and 1801. A fourth book is now in the works. My womanizing, sharpshooting gambler is too much fun to let go.

Q: America? You mean Ethan goes back home?
My hero finds himself an unlikely hero after being entangled in Bonaparte’s Battle of Marengo. He then aids diplomatically in the Franco-American treaty of Mortefontaine that ended an undeclared naval war between the United States and France. Misadventure with Napoleon’s married sister, however, soon sends Gage fleeing to America where he visits modest New York, raw Washington, and is sent by Thomas Jefferson on a mission to the western frontier.

Q: There are no ancient mysteries in the American wilderness, are there?
: Actually there are a number of quite real ones, which new companion Magnus Bloodhammer insists upon investigating. This is the West before Lewis and Clark, when Jefferson was fascinated by stories of Woolly Mammoths, blue-eyed Indians, and reported volcanoes along the Missouri River. And just who really ‘discovered’ America? This story is based on modern investigations that challenge our assumptions.

Q: Why did this time and place attract you after the ruins of Egypt and the Holy Land?
The West was an empire contested by the British, French, Spanish, Americans and Indians, and the stakes were enormous. It was a place of profound mystery in 1801, epic distances, raw beauty, cruel violence, and explosive change. Ethan finds himself with a French voyageur, a titled temptress, a woman in need of rescue, and a pugnacious renegade named Red Jacket. He also experiences a brand-new America that I carefully researched to give a sense of that tumultuous, vibrant young nation.

Q: Do we get to meet Jefferson?
You dine with him, at the President’s House. And greet Napoleon in his bath! As before, the book has a number of characters taken from history.

Q: What about Astiza?
The heroine of the first two Ethan Gage books will be back in the fourth book, and in a surprising way – but not until Gage has some powerful experiences with other women in “The Dakota Cipher.” Let’s just say he has a knack for making his life more and more complicated.

Q: Does he deal with electricity again?
In a way he never dreamed.

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