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The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown



Review by Jack Foley

GIVEN the controversy surrounding Dan Brown's best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, it is almost impossible to begin reading it with an open mind.

So many people have been keen to discredit its claims, particularly the Catholic church, that each revelation is bound to be greeted with a great deal of scepticism.

The author, himself, insists that 'all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact'.

Yet leading figures within the church have argued that the novel is based on nothing more than 'shameful and unfounded lies'.

It is, however, a work of fiction - and a bloody good one at that.

As conspiracy theories go, it quite possibly contains one of the best of all-time, focusing on the search for The Holy Grail.

And it will, quite literally, have you riveted from beginning to end.

The book begins with the murder of a prominent museum curator, whose bizarre corpse seems to suggest a number of clues.

Enter Professor Robert Langdon, a leading but controversial symbologist, who was supposed to have met the curator earlier that same evening.

Langdon immediately becomes the chief suspect of police chief, Bezu Fache, but finds an unlikely ally in one of his fellow investigators, the cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, who seems to possess a personal connection to the case.

Forced to flee the French authorities, Langdon and Neveu form an unlikely partnership as it becomes evident that the curator's murder is connected to the final resting place of The Holy Grail and the shattering revelations that it contains, which would undermine the founding beliefs of the Catholic church and its continued importance in contemporary society.

To reveal too much more would be to deny the central pleasure in reading it, suffice to say that the traditional view of Mary Magdalene is challenged, along with the female role in Christianity.

As such, it is sure to put readers' minds into a spin as they try and separate the fact from the fiction in Dan Brown's claims, while piecing together the riddles and thriller aspects of this intriguing tale.

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ proved last year that religion can provoke all manner of rhetoric, particularly when dealing with something as contentious as the life of Christ.

Brown's Da Vinci Code takes it one step further, challenging the very foundation of Catholicism and portraying the church as both devious and murderous.

It is little wonder his text has provoked such a backlash from those who are concerned its claims could be treated as gospel by the less discerning.

The best way to read the book, however, is to treat it as an entertaining yarn and then, if still interested, do your own research.

There's nothing like a good conspiracy, after all, and Brown's page-turner has plenty to keep the theorists occupied for hours, if not days, after they have finished reading it.

As a work of fiction, therefore, the book must rate as one of the most fascinating and exciting of its type.

It moves along at a rip-roaring pace, throwing in twist upon revelation upon betrayal and deception.

As a thriller, it functions as a genuine page-turner, while as a puzzle, it is fun to piece together the clues at the same time as its protagonists.

If the book reaches a climax a little too early, it is a small price to pay given the fun you will have in reaching its denouement.

It remains to be seen how Hollywood handles the big-screen version given the controversy surrounding it and the fact that a lot of time is given over to theory.

Yet one thing is for sure, the awareness of the novel is such that it would bordering on sinful not to be part of the debate surrounding it.

It comes, therefore, highly recommended.

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