"The Da Vinci Code"
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte MAR 16, 2003)Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is in Paris attending a conference. Late in the night, he is rudely woken up by the hotel management and is taken to a murder scene. The curator of Paris's most famous museum, The Louvre, is dead. The curator, Jacques Sauniere, was to have met Langdon earlier that evening, but never made it. Langdon is seemingly roped in to cash in on his skills as a symbologist; the old man, it turns out, left a lot of clues around just minutes before he died. However, Langdon is considered the prime murder suspect by the French police.
Enter Sophie Neveu, an attractive, brainy cryptologist in the French Police division, and, as it happens, granddaughter of the murdered curator. She believes that Langdon is innocent and that he can help her solve the mystery of "grand-pere's" death. Sophie is convinced that her grandfather has set out a treasure hunt for her and that the trail, when followed, will lead to answers and possibly rich rewards. So it happens that Langdon and Neveu team up together, break codes, and chase trails. Their investigations lead them into the territories of secret ancient societies. The Priory of Sion, which included many famous personalities such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton, is one such.
What exactly is it that Sophie's grandfather wanted only her to find out? Why is the secret so explosive that both Neveu and Langdon have to fight off multiple enemies to get to the truth? These are some of the questions the pair need to answer, and fast.
Dan Brown's earlier novel, Angels and Demons, featured the same protagonist, Robert Langdon. Like the previous book, The Da Vinci Code is a well-researched thriller and Brown manages to educate without losing too much pacing. The Da Vinci Code is a great history lesson about ancient Christianity and matters related to The Holy Grail. In the book, Brown keeps the suspense taut and engaging. He does, however, resort to some clichéd methods such as moving along three subplots in parallel and leaving each chapter suspended in a cliffhanger--soap opera style.
The story occasionally strains credibility early on. How could a dying man, one wonders, have time to write out intricate mind puzzles even if as Sophie explains, her grandfather "entertained himself as a young man by creating anagrams of famous works of art." Fortunately, Brown's pacing doesn't leave too much time for questions. From the explosive start to the explosive finish, The Da Vinci Code is one satisfying thriller. I see movie rights being sold already. Pick this one up on a long flight home and you'll never know where the time went.
- Amazon readers rating: from 4,126 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Da Vinci Code at MostlyFiction.com
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"Angels & Demons"
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie MAY 7, 2005)
Dan Brown is one of the most consistently excellent writers in the suspense-thriller genre. He always adds something extra to his novels besides an original, fast-paced plot. Brown explores unique themes/topics, whether it be the mysteries of the Holy Grail and secrets of the Knights Templar, NASA politics, or discovering life on other planets, that add tremendous depth to his storylines. I think some readers take his work too seriously, however. After all, his books are fiction - novels where one is required to suspend belief to some degree. Brown's background research is quite competent. I have read both The DaVinci Code and Deception Point and found them to be super suspenseful and filled with fascinating new ideas. Angels and Demons is another page-turner.
Robert Langdon, (also a character in The DaVinci Code), a renowned Harvard symbologist, is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze an obscure symbol branded into the chest of a murdered physicist. The dead scientist's final achievement had been the discovery of antimatter, "the most powerful and deadly source of energy known to man." Langdon is able to identify the symbol. He also finds that the labs supply of antimatter, the only specimens in existence, has disappeared. Then the Pope dies suddenly. Cause of death is determined to be murder - an almost indiscernible murder. Langdon learns of a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization - The Illuminati. This organization, has existed since Galileo's time to promote the interests of science over religion. The antimatter is hidden underneath Vatican City on the eve of a Papal election, and it is scheduled to explode, threatening lives as well as all the historical documents and art that the Vatican contains.
Robert Langdon, and Vittoria Vetra, the dead scientist's daughter, begin an exhausting search, with an impossible deadline, through the streets, churches and catacombs of Rome to prevent the disaster, find the Illuminati leadership and the murderer(s).
Once again, Brown had me intrigued with his scientific and historical detail, Church politics, and high tech-mania. I look forward to reading Digital Fortress next.
- Amazon readers rating: from 2,468 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
Robert Langdon books:
Movies from Books:
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- The official Web site for Dan Brown
- Fibonacci Series and The Golden Proportion
- MostlyFiction.com review of The Lost Symbol
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About the Author:
Dan Brown grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire and is the son of a teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent time as an English teacher before turning his efforts fully to writing.
The Da Vinci Code, has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling novels of all time. Named one of the World's 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, he has appeared in the pages of Newsweek, Forbes, People, GQ, The New Yorker, and others. His novels are published in 51 languages around the world.
Dan lives in New England with his wife.