It’s not like Dan Brown needs my help selling copies of the hugely successful, The DaVinci Code [Doubleday]; but as far as mass-marketed, gazillion-copy bestsellers go, this one is a cut above the rest. The writing, while light on prose and heavy on adventure, is decent and clear. Often, Brown Cliff Claven’s out on us with trivial-but-relevant back story and/or historical facts. One gets the impression that perhaps the whole story grew out of a thesis on the non-fiction book that he really wanted to tell.
And then there’s the whole The DaVinci Code scandal: how much is truth and how much is fiction? Frankly, I’m not sure that matters. He’s set the stage for some endless dialogue regarding women and their place in history, especially in regard to the Church. He’s shaken the Vatican to the core, pointing out that the Jesus-as-God idea, that was designed a century or more after Christ’s death, as a handy way the Church could keep a firm grip on the people (and their wallets) that it governed at the time.
Regarding the plot, Brown successfully pulls off all the necessary twists to keep you turning the pages. The characters you pegged as the heroes are not always what they seem. Sometimes the bad guys surprise you in the end.
It doesn’t matter how much of The DaVinci Code is fiction, really. It’s selling on the power to question the dogma we’ve all been spoon-fed for so many years. The DaVinci Code is not anti-faith, even if some say it’s anti-Catholic. And the most brilliant thing about it is that the reader closes the book feeling in a higher spiritual place, and wondering if Jesus is looking down at his church from a place equal with, say, Gandhi and Buddha…and feeling pretty disgusted.