Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Hardcover (available in mass market), 454 pages, 2003
Reason for Reading: One of 2003’s big (if not biggest) buzz books.
Synopsis: Robert Langdon, a symbologist, is called to the scene of a murder in the Louvre after disturbing codes are found on and around the dead body. With the help of Sophie Neveu, the two must race to prove Langdon’s innocence by cracking the codes that are somehow tied in with Leonardo Da Vinci’s works and a secret society.
Why you should read this book: Brown has presented his readers with an intelligent and suspenseful mystery novel. The history weaves smoothly in and out of the action sequences, and interesting tidbits of information are scattered liberally throughout the book without ever slowing it down. The codes Langdon must break vary between easy and extremely difficult, allowing the reader to figure out a few clues as they read, adding a definite fun-factor. There’s numerous twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Rest assured, the book stands alone, so if you haven’t read the first Langdon novel, Angels and Demons, you won’t miss any plot points.
Why you should avoid this book: The book is occasionally predictable, but it’s the price you pay when you have a mystery novel that you want the reader to be actively involved in. There are controversial speculations on Christianity that some people might find offensive.
Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Sauniere collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.
The painting showed a blue-robed Virgin Mary sitting with her arm around an infant child, presumably baby John the Baptist. Oddly, though, rather than the usual Jesus-blessing-John scenario, it was baby John who was blessing Jesus – and Jesus was submitting to his authority! More troubling still, Mary was holding one hand high about the head of infant John and making a decidedly threatening gesture – her fingers looking like eagle’s talons, gripping an invisible head. Finally, the most obvious and frightening image: Just below Mary’s curled fingers, Uriel was making a cutting gesture with his hand – as if slicing the neck of the invisible head gripped by Mary’s claw-like hand.
‘So the keystone is a preuve de merite,’ Sophie said. ‘If a rising Priory senechal can open it, he proves himself worthy of the information it holds.’
Langdon nodded. ‘I forgot you’d had experience with this sort of thing.’
‘Not only with my grandfather. In cryptology, that’s called a ‘self-authorizing language.’ That is, if you’re smart enough to read it, you’re permitted to know what is being said.’
Also recommended: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross; Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper; Testament by Nino Ricci.
Also by this author: Angels and Demons; Deception Point; Digital Fortress.
Author’s website: danbrown.com
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007