I, like many people I suppose, came to this book only on the back of the success of the Da Vinci Code. I wasn't a huge fan of the DVC, and feared the worst when this opened up in pretty much the same way - a note from the author saying that all of the cults, locations, and practices named in the book were factual; then a murder; then hero Robert Langdon wakes up in the middle of the night to be called to decipher some centuries old symbols that have appeared at the murder scene. And yes the general plot of the book does follow the same path - attractive but hugely intelligent European female sidekick - check! Centuries-old cult with a grudge against the Catholic church - check! Ancient clues that have never been solved, but now need to be unravelled in just the next few hours to save the day - check! But before deja vu sets in too much, the suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy this book compared to the DVC is somewhat less. Whereas that book took instantly knowledgeable icons, e.g. the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and tried to convince us that there was something else in them that no-one had ever seen before, here the clues are more subtle - individual statues & motifs amongst the millions that exist in Rome. It still doesn't mean it's true, but somehow here it doesn't feel so unlikely that these could actually point to something. Plus also the ending, whilst at one point threatening to go off into truly bonkers territory, just about pulls it all back together at the last minute, into a resolution that approximates some sense given what has transpired before. So yes it's still a trashy thriller hiding behind the veneer of an intellectual drama (science v religion? The discussion...), but if you're going to sit on a beach this summer & want to pick up a book to read, this will do the job.
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