I read Dan Brown’s book Digital Fortress and didn’t like it. Hated it is more appropriate, actually. And so despite what seemed like the entire world recommending this book, I avoided it. Well, I finally read it and it was actually pretty good. Like Digital Fortress the chapters in this book were ludicrously short. There were also chase scenes, which are more appropriate in movies than books. But those are really minor quibbles.
The book is a mystery of sorts. It starts with the curator of the Louvre museum in Paris being killed and American historian Robert Langdon seemingly framed for the murder. The administrator’s estranged granddaughter is a code breaker for the police force in France and she helps Robert escape police custody after deciphering some obscure code her grandfather left in the museum before he died. From here they go on a quest for a valuable treasure that seems at first somewhat trite, but is revealed later on in the story to be something different from what I expected. I thought it was fairly novel, in fact. The story involves ancient artifacts, ancient secret societies, and the history of Christianity, all of which is presented in a believable manner. I, like everyone else who has read this, looked up the Last Supper and Mona Lisa to see the secret symbols supposedly put in them by Da Vinci. And I actually saw them, which was neat.
I am being mysterious on purpose so that I don’t give away too much of the plot. Part of the fun of the book is that it unfolds in an interesting way, doling out plot revelations at a satisfying pace and having a fairly rewarding ending. In fact, the best way I can describe this book is “fun”. I still don’t like Dan Brown’s writing, but his story was pretty good this time around. He writes in a rather bland and uninteresting way. The way he turns phrases, the details of the sentences, the way characters converse with one another... These are all lacking. Orders of magnitude worse than Frank Herbert or Neal Stephenson, and more in line with Michael Crichton’s or John Grisham’s rather straightforward style of writing. The emphasis is clearly on story. The characters generally have personality but they feel a little cliche and at times seem to be about as understated as a Hollywood summer blockbuster.
All that being said, this book rises above its faults by having a neat little story with nice mystery that’s unravelled at just the right pace. The mix of real history and fiction is a very nice mixture indeed. I do wish the chapters were a little longer so I didn’t feel like I was reading a book made for someone with attention deficit disorder, but I’m picky that way. This is an easy read and I do recommend it to everyone.