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The Da Vinci Code    by Dan Brown order for
Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Robert Langdon, a symbologist visiting Paris from Harvard, is summoned from a deep sleep to accompany the police to the Louvre. The curator has been murdered and before he died, he was able to leave clues as to the identity of his killer, and more importantly, as to why he was killed. Langdon is immediately caught up in a no-holds-barred puzzle-solving mission to find something protected for thousands of years -- The Holy Grail.

Accompanied by the curator's estranged granddaughter, Sophie Neveu, Langdon follows clues, deciphers codes, and solves anagrams and riddles in an attempt to be the first to reach the Grail -- which proves to be something far different from the cup from the Last Supper. Langdon and Sophie encounter a great deal of resistance from many angles, especially from a Catholic organization called Opus Dei. Not everyone is who they first seem to be, nor are motivations as they appear on the surface. Who will be the first to reach the Grail, and who will remain alive to tell about it?

As a thriller, The Da Vinci Code is a high speed nail-biter. The puzzle solver and mystery lover in me enjoyed this book. The clever clues and riddles challenged my brain and kept me reading to find solutions. However, I was not comfortable with the religious perspective of the novel. Without giving spoilers as to the premise of the book, Christians in particular will take issue with what is presented, since it throws many basic beliefs out the window. Although the author obviously did extensive research into Grail theory, readers need to remember that this is fiction.

At one point a character in the book points to Da Vinci's famous fresco, The Last Supper, to prove their Grail theory true. The painting is treated like a photograph, trying to show in minute detail that everything stated is fact. How could this be? Da Vinci painted it in 1498, almost 1500 years after Christ. Da Vinci wasn't there, so he was painting his own ideas and interpretation. Readers need to do their own research and decide what their faith leads them to believe.

All in all, The Da Vinci Code takes a fascinating look at alternatives in religious thought, placed in the context of a modern day treasure hunt. At times, the book is exhausting: everyone is being chased, perilous situations abound, and the reader doesn't really know which character to trust. But all the drama and intrigue adds to the intense pace, which makes reading the book worthwhile, if only for the thrill of the pursuit.

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