Brown is a New England-based author of bestsellers like “Digital Fortress,“ “Angels & Demons“ and “Deception Point.“ His legion of fans has grown with each work, but with this, his latest, he has displayed an amazing new level of ability and the praise has been nothing short of heady.
Consider, for example, the comments of Clive Cussler, who raved about the book, saying, “Intrigue and menace mingle in one of the finest mysteries Ive ever read. An amazing tale with enigma piled on secrets stacked on riddles.“ Nelson DeMille, another bestselling suspense writer concurrred: “Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius.“ Ditto for Vince Flynn, who said, “The Da Vinci Code sets the hook-of-all-hooks, and takes off down a road that is as eye-opening as it is page-turning. You simply cannot put this book down. Thriller readers everywhere will soon realize Dan Brown is a master.“
So what is all the fuss about? Plenty. Lightening-paced, intelligent and riveting, this is the kind of intrigue thriller that can convince you theres no better genre with which to spend time. And if you think that genre is not necessarily your cup of tea, youll probably rethink that position after reading it, right before you start reading it again. Not to belabor the point, but, yes, this book is just that good.
The delicious and dizzying plot involves Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who has come to Paris on business and immediately is involved in the baffling murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre. Hes barely had time to orient himself to being in the City of Lights before being pulled into a crime that seems eerily familiar:
“Robert Langdon awoke slowly... Where the hell am I? The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS.
Slowly, the fog began to lift. Langdon picked up the receiver. “Hello?“ “Monsieur Langdon?“ a man‘s voice said. “I hope I have not awoken you?“
Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead.
“This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent.“
Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor?...“I‘m sorry,“ Langdon said, “but I‘m very tired and--“
“Mais monsieur,“ the concierge pressed, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. “Your guest is an important man.“
Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last year Langdon‘s visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had seemed never-ending...
Almost immediately, a heavy fist pounded on Langdon‘s door... “Mr. Langdon? I need to speak with you.“ The man‘s English was accented -- a sharp, authoritative bark. “My name is Lieutenant Jerome Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire.“
Langdon paused. The Judicial Police? The DCPJ were the rough equivalent of the U.S. FBI...
“May I come in?“ the agent asked. Langdon hesitated, feeling uncertain as the stranger‘s sallow eyes studied him.
“What is this is all about?“
“My capitaine requires your expertise in a private matter.“
“Now?“ Langdon managed. “It‘s after midnight.“
“Am I correct that you were scheduled to meet with curator of the Louvre this evening? “
Langdon felt a sudden surge of uneasiness. He and the revered curator Jacques Saunièère had been slated to meet for drinks after Langdon‘s lecture tonight, but Saunièère had never shown up...
The agent gave a dire sigh and slid a Polaroid snapshot through the narrow opening in the door... As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden upwelling of anger.
“Who would do this!“
“We had hoped that you might help us answer that very question. Considering your knowledge in symbology and your plans to meet with him.“
Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image was gruesome and profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense of deja vu. A little over a year ago, Langdon had received a photograph of a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly familiar.
The agent checked his watch. “My captain is waiting, sir.“
Langdon barely heard him. His eyes were still riveted on the picture.
“This symbol here, and the way his body is so oddly . . .“
“Positioned?“ the agent offered.
Langdon nodded, feeling a chill as he looked up. “I can‘t imagine who would do this to someone.“
The agent looked grim. “You don‘t understand, Mr. Langdon. What you see in this photograph . . .“ He paused. “Monsieur Saunièère did that to himself.“
Not only has the victim been murdered inside the museum, but a mysterious cipher has been found near the body that leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of the master painter Da Vinci. The clues are visible for all to see, yet cleverly concealed by the painter, and Langdon finds himself joining forces with French cryptologist Sophie Neveu, the daughter of the deceased, to unravel the mystery behind them. Together, they learn that the murder is linked to an ancient secret society called the Priory of Sion, a brotherhood whose members have included the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others. The cipher contains an explosive historical secret that has been protected by this clandestine society, and to say the least, the stakes in either exposing it or keeping it hidden are remarkably high for all those involved.
That is only the tip of the iceberg, though to divulge anything more would be a travesty. As Langdon and Sophie race across Europe, a number of startling revelations are made, and at each juncture, there are rich and provocative ideas connected to some of Western culture‘s greatest mysteries -- from the nature of the Mona Lisa‘s smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Right up to the very final paragraphs, the thrills dont stop coming and the only letdown is that heartbreaking -- yet immensely satisfying -- moment when you have to admit that the white-knuckled ride is over. Yes, the book is just that good.