Extraordinary Investigations: The Morgan File – A puzzle novel by Rod Gillies

We were very excited to be invited to test out this captivating puzzle book and absolutely loved the style and aesthetics as soon as we saw it. For us, it was a perfect combination of intriguing puzzles and fascinating history.

Following the disappearance of a researcher, the investigations as you move through the book show that he was close to discovering some deceitful and shocking events that occurred during World War II. From hidden Nazi gold to espionage and murder, the plot – which is largely based on real life events – really captured our interest from the start.

Unlike some escape puzzle books, this doesn’t have pages and pages of written narrative to trawl through but instead, uses a series of engaging photographs, mysterious documents and handwritten notes which have been collected as part of the intriguing investigation. It’s our job to crack codes and ciphers, make links between the scattered documents, solve puzzles and find out information to solve the all-important questions we are given.

Another way in which this puzzle book is different from others we have seen is that you need to make extensive use of online searches and websites which are hinted at in the narrative. The answers are not necessarily all there within the images but instead we had to extract the important clues and use our own initiative in researching the historical events in question – this made it seem much more realistic as an investigation.

Another feature we absolutely loved is the way in which the solutions are inputted. Rather than finding a 4 digit code or simply checking an answer page, you have to log into an online system with a realistic interface which also helped us to feel totally immersed in the experience. The system poses a series of questions and answers are submitted, enabling you to find out if you are correct or if you need to think again!

Each of the 6 evidence files took us approximately an hour but we could’ve easily spent more time learning about the history as we went along. It has the flexibility whereby you can quickly work your way from puzzle to puzzle, you could spend hours reading around the historical events or find a happy medium somewhere in between. It can be completed all in one go but we found it more enjoyable to break it up and complete it over a few evenings.

We found some clues more difficult than others but luckily there is a helpful hints system – we would have been stuck a couple of times otherwise! The hints pages at the back of the book give three levels of tips to give a gentle nudge in the right direction without handing the answer on a plate.

Overall, we absolutely loved spending our evenings working through this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys escape puzzles, cracking codes, interesting plots and delving into history.

This can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08C7GGLQJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_QopnFbKYH8FVR

Price: £14.99

Recommended for adults.

The Escape Book

As well as escape box games and online escape experiences, one other way to recapture the enjoyment of escape rooms at home – especially during this period of Covid-19 lockdown- is with escape books!

This was bought as a present for me and I had no idea what to expect.

You start at the beginning, reading the context of the story until you are faced with the first puzzle. Once solved, the numerical answer that you arrive at is the page number to turn to next. There are pages at the back for clues but it is much more satisfying when you can solve them without any hints.

There are a good variety of puzzles including hidden numbers, optical illusions, mazes, logic and even practical ones.

Overall, this book took me about 2 hours to complete but it was an enjoyable activity to keep me occupied whilst sat in the sun during the lockdown.