THE DA VINCI CODE
Doubleday April 2003
Reviewer Sissy Jacobson
We first met Robert Langdon in ANGELS AND DEMONS, where he raced against time in Rome and Vatican City as the Catholic Church teetered on the brink of destruction. Now, the Harvard symbologist is in Paris on business when he becomes chief suspect in the murder of Jacques Sauniere, revered curator of the Louver. Bezu Fache, Capitaine, Central Directorate Judicial Police, orders Langdon to the Louvre where the body still lies as it was found, with a coded message written by Sauniere in his own blood. Sophie Neveu, an agent with the Department of Crytpgraphie, arrives at the scene and has already decoded part of the message, which turns out to be meaningless to everyone except Sophie. It happens that Sophie was raised by her grandfather, Jacques Sauniere, who always made a game out of teaching her puzzles and riddles. At this point their relationship is not common knowledge. Sophie and her beloved grandfather have been estranged for the past ten years.
When Fache leaves Langdon and Sophie alone with the body, Sophie goes into action, rescuing Langdon. They narrowly escape through an underground passage and make it to Sophie’s small Smart Car. A wild ride through the dark streets of Paris ensues as Sophie and Robert try to figure out where they will be safe until they can unlock the secrets Sauniere has left for them. The police have surrounded the American Embassy, so Robert can’t find help there. While eluding capture, Sophie and Robert begin working out the codes that seem to be pointing to the keystone that unlocks a mystery that has been searched for since the Crusades in medieval times … the Holy Grail. Like a treasure hunt, one clue must be deciphered before moving on to uncover the next clue.
Dan Brown has based THE DA VINCI CODE on facts, legends, and whispers that have been handed down through the ages. This is an exciting tale, intricately interwoven with in-depth research into ages-old secrets handed down through clandestine societies and rumored to be covered up by the church. THE DA VINCI CODE moves faster than ANGELS AND DEMONS, but it is also more detailed. The characters are eerie: An Albino monk named Silas who leaves death in his wake; Bishop Manuel Aringarosa who flies from Opus Dei World Headquarters in New York City to a mountain retreat somewhere in France. Why is he there and what is this mission that has him looking over his shoulder? Then there is Sir Leah Teabing, a former British Royal Historian who has spent his life in search of the Holy Grail. Robert and Sophie go to him for sanctuary and help in deciphering their puzzles. He agrees to aid them using all his knowledge and resources. But why would he share his knowledge with them? After all, "Teabing’s life passion is the Grail."
Once enough layers of the story were slowly peeled away and I understood what exactly they were looking for, I wondered how in the world author Dan Brown was going to bring this controversial tale to a conclusion. Surprisingly, he wraps it up with a totally unexpected twist. With a vivid imagination, combined with actual facts, Mr. Brown has brought us a mind-boggling story of mammoth proportions and chilling suppositions. The one thing that really concerns me is that unbelievers, or people who are not grounded in their faith, will believe his writings. Just keep in mind, this is a work of fiction.
Dan Brown’s follow up to THE DA VINCI CODE will be titled THE SOLOMON KEY. So far there is no word on when it will be published.
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