April 09, 2006

Dan Brown & his book of renown

After all this time The DaVinci Code finally came out in paperback within the last two weeks, so I picked up a copy. I finished it last night, and I don't understand how umpty-fratz zillion copies have been sold. Well, wait. I understand how they've been sold, but I sure don't understand how many people might have enjoyed it. The writing is positively horrid, the plot's not well defined, and it doesn't even make a lot of sense. Caution! Spoiler follows! Stop reading here if you haven't read the book and you plan to!

The whole theory is that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married and had children, and that the line continues up to the present day. The Vatican is desperately trying to hide the evidence in order to maintain what it thinks is the true Church, another guy with some hirelings is trying to find the evidence and display it for all the world, a member of Opus Dei is trying to find it to keep his organization from being decertified as a Papal favorite, and the hero (a pretty poor one, I have to say) is stuck in the middle by virtue of his expertise.

Ok. That's a standard plotline, found in many good novels. But Brown tries to twist the plot towards the end, making a good guy into a bad guy. He also gives a cop who's on the trail of our hero a sudden "Aha" moment when he (the cop) does a 180-degree turn and becomes an after-the-fact accessory to the denouement. In the hands of a good author, this could be done well. But Brown doesn't do it well. He doesn't explain the motives well, and he's clumsy with the scenes in which these turnabouts happen.

Then there's the ending. It feels forced, like he ran out of story and hit an "End" key. "Hmm," he says. "I mentioned this family thing at the beginning, and it was meant to be foreshadowing, so I'd better toss it in here. And I've got a hero and this female, so I'd better throw them together at the end, too."

Don't waste even $7.99 on this thing.

Posted by Linkmeister at April 9, 2006 09:22 AM | TrackBack

I won't. Thanks, Steve.

Posted by: Scott at April 10, 2006 05:12 AM

I kind of think of it as a lazy whodunit beach read. This is one of those cases where the movie will undoubtedly be better. The first book of the series is also better...wasn't it written after The DaVinci Code? But that shouldn't be construed as a ringing endorsement, either.

Posted by: Kate at April 10, 2006 12:03 PM

I'll wait till it arrives on the one-dollar shelves at Shirokiya (which is where I get most of my books).

I've read everything else he's written so have no reason to expect anything but a relatively engrossing but utterly improbable yarn.

Posted by: albert at April 10, 2006 12:20 PM

If you want to read a really GOOD detective story theorizing about Mary Magdalene (with no mention of offspring), try A Letter of Mary by Laurie King. It's one of her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, which are probably the best classical mystery stories being written today. This one contains a shameless and hilarious cameo appearance by Lord Peter Wimsey... many of the Russell / Holmes books have good cameos, but this one made me laugh out loud on an airplane when I got to it.

Posted by: hedera at April 13, 2006 06:20 PM

Thanks for the tip, hedera. I'm always looking for new mystery authors.

Posted by: Linkmeister at April 13, 2006 08:43 PM