Louvre and rage

A bizarre murder mystery illuminates fanciful secrets in “The Da Vinci Code.”

by Katrina Wilber

One should avoid clichés like the plague. But there’s no place like home, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And, of course, never judge a book by its cover.

Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” is “Harry Potter” for grown-ups. The book twists and turns the human brain in ways that would almost make Einstein cringe, but in a good way.

“The Da Vinci Code” is the second book involving fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon. A simple business trip to Paris turns into a cross-continental, across-the-centuries search for the truth after a museum curator is murdered.

But it’s not just any museum and not just any curator; the scene is the Louvre, and the curator belonged to a 10-century-old secret society that included such luminaries as Claude Debussy, Victor Hugo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Brown has the reader captivated by the end of the garish prologue; an albino attacker with numerous murders already to his credit finds his last victim and finishes what he believes is the beginning of his sect’s restoration.

The dying curator used the works of da Vinci to pass on the secret to his estranged granddaughter. Meanwhile, the chief of police brings her to the crime scene because she’s a cryptologist and will be able to analyze the numeric code left by the man who is dead before the book actually starts.

You’ll never go broke selling conspiracy theories, and Brown covers the gamut from “The Mona Lisa” and the “Paul is dead” rumor to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Snow White.” His straightforward prose exposes the allegories behind Disney’s movies, and only in a novel of this kind could someone combine da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” the Holy Grail and the sex from “Eyes Wide Shut” and still have the book make sense.

Even though the story goes inside the minds of numerous characters, Brown writes from a third-person point of view; an omniscient narrator carries the story and refuses to dole out the answers before the time is right. He switches back and forth among the characters’ stories, changing right at the moment something exciting should happen. The descriptive yet concise style of writing is exactly what this book needs; the subject matter and vocabulary require short, to-the-point declarations to keep readers engaged.

It’s a book that makes one want to flip to the back to find out what’s going to happen, but that would just ruin the fun.

It may seem like the conclusion is clear at many times throughout the book, but think again. “The Da Vinci Code” is as circuitous as the many allegories referenced in the book would make you suppose.