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Ambrosia's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
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At the King's Pleasure
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Posted by on April 30, 2011


An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever

The best parts of the book remind me of the first and third Indiana Jones films (Temple of Doom sucked). Dan Brown builds his fictional story on just enough truth about Christian history to spark imagination and plant in his readers a kernel that will lead to conversations, research and a deeper understanding of the life of Christ, the Church and the role mankind has played in muddying up the religion. We shouldn’t read his book as “The Gospel According to Dan”, and I would bet Mr. Brown would say the same thing. But it is a wonderful starting point for someone unfamiliar with the formation of the early church and the political/social choices of the first leaders that have shaped the evolution of the faith. I have yet to talk to any reader of the book who did not immediately locate a copy of The Last Supper and look for the clues the book suggests exists amid its scene.

But with all that highbrow content is a very lowbrow narrative, full of melodramatic mysteries, knock-you-over-the-head-clues and prose that at times sounds like it belongs in a dime store. The arch of the story is a common mystery (despite the very uncommon content), and is not unlike the plot of an episode of Scooby-Doo (a crime takes place, suspects are identified, people aren’t who they say they are and our heroes figure it all out). At the very end, I half expected the main villain to really be Old Man Withers of the Amusement Park and our two protagonists to enjoy a nice meal of Scooby Snacks.

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