The fifth book in The Da Vinci Code author's Robert Langdon series, this time focusing on the murder of a genius former student of Langdon's before he can make an earth-shattering announcement that will change how every world religion is seen.
Part of the fun in reading Brown comes from not taking him too seriously as a stylist. He brings to mind Joseph Heller’s Yossarian in Catch-22, who has the job of censoring letters and turns it into an arbitrary game. There are Brown sentences that could happily lose their modifiers: 'The grisly memory was mercifully shattered by the chime of the jangling bar door.' There are phrases that beg you to ask friends to fill in the blanks: 'Clear and penetrating, ____ _ ____.' (Like a bell.) There’s an air of overstatement that’s more gleeful than egregious, but it can’t be mistaken for good. And the hyperbole is sometimes the stuff of giggles ... Then there are the tricks. All that symbology he and Langdon bring to the game is never without its gee-whiz excitement. Brown has told The Times that he loved the Hardy Boys books, and it shows. The hunt here for a 47-character password yields the niftiest feat of gamesmanship in the book, as does Langdon’s self-important analysis of what looks like an exotic symbol on a car’s window. It appears to be something that not even an expert of his caliber has ever seen before. It’s not. Brown loves winking at Langdon, the literally dashing version of himself, and inviting readers to share the joke. And for all their high-minded philosophizing, these books’ geeky humor remains a big part of their appeal.
Dan Brown is back with another thriller so moronic you can feel your IQ points flaking away like dandruff ... All the worn-out elements of those earlier books are dragged out once again for Brown to hyperventilate over like some grifter trying to fence fake antiques ... Brown may not have discovered a secret that threatens humanity’s faith, but he has successfully located every cliche in the world. Some sentences are constructed entirely of hand-me-down phrases ... All right — I get it — this is cotton candy spun into print, but why then must every reference, no matter how pedestrian, be explained in a Wikipedia monotone that Siri would pity? ... All this might be worth enduring if the story’s infinitely hyped revelations didn’t finally show up at the end of a trail of blood sounding like an old TED Talk. Kirsch’s posthumous answers to the big questions — Where did we come from? Where are we going? — will surprise no one technologically savvy enough to operate a cellphone. Darwinians, fundamentalists, atheists and believers: Pray that this cup pass from you.
After the baddies in the previous novels, the morose retired admiral who serves as the muscle in this one seems a bit beige ... Obviously, Brown hasn’t got any better at writing since his last outing. If there were an antonym for 'unerring' – something that captured the way that over more than 400 pages he avoids producing a good sentence even by accident – it would be the one for Brown. He still lobs modifiers about like an out-of-control tennis machine. He still drops in Wikipedia-style paragraphs of factual boilerplate...But complaining that Brown can’t write is like complaining that crisps are crunchy. And you know what? It doesn’t really matter at all. The book is fun in its galumphing way. And the longer he keeps earnestly plugging away, the more the reader warms to him. There’s a winning innocence to Brown’s work, especially as rather than just produce a chase thriller with added sudoku, he is determined to take on the most fundamental issues of human existence. Dan Brown: novelist of ideas.