*Ø* Exclusive! Da Vinci Code sequel
Sequel to best-seller set in Australia
I'm not sure if I've sold one yet, but I've had on sale Dan Brown's best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, in our store, Cafe Diem, for a few months, so I thought it was about time I actually read it myself. Now that I'm about halfway through this "intellectual thriller" full of twists, turns and intriguing ancient riddles, two burning questions have arisen:
Firstly, was ever such a badly written book such a page-turner? And secondly, was ever a page-turner so badly written?
Dan Brown has written a book of genius, as we are reliably informed by a reviewer (on the back cover of the book). The author of The Da Vinci Code
has the distinction of being the first writer to craft an entire best selling novel – nay, to craft an entire career, as his career and continuing celebrity are now assured – out of a deep understanding of the dumbed-down status of his readership.
One must congratulate Mr Brown on identifying the marketing possibilities created for all of us by the failed education systems of the West over the past two or three decades. Formerly, these opportunities were exploited to their maximum potential by media owners and a number of other corporate go-getters, and although certain novelists had made valiant attempts to mimic their success, it took a writer with the heretofore mentioned genius of Dan Brown to "crack the code", as it were. We are all the richer for it. Mr Brown and a great many people at Bantam Press are as well.
The sequel to The Da Vinci Code
So impressed was I with Mr Brown's genius, I shot off an email to him last week and asked him what his next book was going to be about. He replied immediately, thanking me for his free daily Wilson's Almanac
ezine, for he is a subscriber and huge fan – as a matter of fact, he said he owes much of his success to "the captivating esoteric information that arrives each day in [my] email in-tray". Dan, you're the man!
Danny, as I fondly call him, told me that the sequel would be set in Australia, and he gave me permission to print a few paragraphs from his manuscript here for the readers. Oh – and he asked me to send his warm greetings to all.
Here for the first time is a snippet from Dan's forthcoming novel ...
The Dundee Code: Exclusive to Wilson's Almanac
Langdon and Sophie peered over the low brick wall toward the famous Sydney Opera House and into the foyer, as 'lobby' is called in Australia – a country in the Southern Hemisphere that many people know from Crocdile Dundee and Crocodile Hunter.
"Can you see into the lobby, Sophie?" asked Robert Langdon.
"The earth is divided into hemispheres, Robert," Sophie Neveu explained. "There is a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern, an Eastern and a Western Hemisphere, like you have an East and West Coast in America, east being on the right and west on the left of the 'map' (a kind of street directory only world-sized). You might have seen maps on Discovery Channel. Unlike people in the USA, Australians live in the Southern, and Eastern Hemispheres. And rather than using the word 'lobby', they use the French-sounding word, 'foy ––'"
"There he is!" interrupted Langdon. "It's the evil Silas, the albino. I can tell, because of his very white skin and hair, as white as Disney's Snow White's hair is black. And I think his eyes might be pink, but from this distance ..."
"Ah yes, monsieur
Robert," said Sophie, who often tended to use the famous French word for 'mister' (monsieur
) even down there Down Under in Australia, an English-speaking democracy of about 20 million population, and one-time convict colony of the UK, or United Kingdom. Where they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Sophie continued, "Yes. Albinism: a genetic condition resulting in a lack of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair ... an inherited condition arising from the combination of recessive genes passed from both parents of an individual."
Langdon looked concerned. "He seems to be asking the 'bloke behind the desk' – as they call a 'desk clerk' over here, Down Under – something. Sophie, do you still have that long-range hearing device in your handbag, the one that Inspecteur
– or 'Inspector' in English – Fache accidentally dropped back in Paris (Paris, France, about 3,500 miles from Ohio) and you picked up so adroitly?"
That word 'adroit'! The French word 'droit', meaning 'right', certainly finds its way into many nooks and crannies of the English language. It even makes me think of the motto on the British coat of arms,
DIEU ET MON DROIT. It took Sophie to see her grandfather's clever anagram here:
I'M DUNDEE. ROOT IT. Root! The Australian slang term for sexual intercourse. How could I have missed it?
. Yes, sir," Sophie ventured.
"Sophie, you can call me 'mate'. We're now in Australia (a country located south of Indonesia, which is about 12,000 miles from Oregon). People call each other 'mate' here," Langdon said, "as they are very friendly, and have national characteristics such as anti-authoritarianism, tough individualism and a touch of idleness, just as Asians are just one big lookalike monoculture, and bad people have German accents, and you French are arrogant and smell like garlic. But Aussies are achievers and hosted the famous Olympic Games right here in Sydney in 2000 – you might have seen it on le télévision
in your native France, Europe, way east of New York. Australians are a bit like Americans, only with bad accents."
Sophie was obviously impressed. As a university-trained professional, there was so much she already knew, but so much she could learn, and Robert Langdon was the one to teach her. "Here is the dévice d'acouter
– listening device in your language – what will you use it for?" she asked, occasionally slipping into the language, French, of her native homeland of origin, which can easily happen when you have some language other than English, as almost all the 60 million or so French people do. French is the language spoken by Pepe le Pew in the old Warner Brothers cartoons.
Langdon was lost in thought. France: A country whose metropolitan territory is located in western Europe, and which is further made up of a collection of overseas islands and territories located in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the western Indian Ocean, the northern and southern Pacific Ocean, and the ocean surrounding Antarctica (sovereignty over Antarctica proper is suspended since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty).
Langdon was still lost in thought.
"Robert? Robert? You're thinking again. Italics mean thinking, or French. What will you use it for?" Sophie asked.
"Use what? Oh! The listening device?" Langdon, a professor from one of the most famous universities of the East Coast in the USA ('Ivy League'), that two Presidents and a lot of famous people had gone to, hadn't noticed Sophie Neveu was speaking to him. A lot of professors have this absent-minded quality, like they have Father Knows Best leather sleeve patches on their tweed jackets, and polo-necked shirts, and flecks of gray in their hair, like poets, but not necessarily red setter dogs and cottages on wind-swept beaches as poets do – and Dr Robert Langdon, (Ph D, or Doctor of Philosophy, not a medical doctor) was no exception.
Although we might not have seen much evidence of it in Gilligan's Island
(which was not completely based on fact), these charming professor characteristics are seen as irresistibly attractive to beautiful and savvy women of 32 or so. Hot young women just like the brave, university-educated redhead, Sophie Neveu, who had a kind of female Heinrich Schliemann feel about her.
Heinrich Schliemann was a famous archeologist (like Indiana Jones), from Germany, Europe. However, Sophie was not an archeologist, but a cryptographer, so a lot of her time had been spent working out what codes meant – the cryptographer's vocation. Yes, working out codes or 'cryptograms' as they're called, rather than digging in the ground to find lost civilizations – the vocation of archeologists.
HEINRICH SCHLEIMANN! My gosh, if you let an N be an H, that's an anagram of
SHH A CLICHE IN MENHIR. Of course! 'Menhir' – a large, single upright standing stone (monolith or megalith), of prehistoric European origin ... like the Heelstone at Stonehenge, England, Europe! How could I have missed it?
HEELSTONE .... ETHEL NOSE!
Now, if we can just find someone called Ethel.
– yes, Robert. Mais
of course. The listening device Inspecteur
Fache dropped when I disarmed him of his .44 Magnum by wrapping myself in the Mona Lisa canvas, knowing he wouldn't shootez moi
"Well Sophie, it's like this ––"
"Robert. Before you continuez
, and while Silas is breaking that 'desk bloke's' neck, there is something I must tell you half of."
"What is it, Sophie? You look harried. (Stressed.)"
Langdon took a long puff on his meerschaum pipe. He hadn't noticed before how the bright sun they have down there in Down Under could light up a woman's hair so, while at the same time illuminating those delicate facial hints of doubt, uncertainty, vulnerability, that made the well-built cryptographer seem somehow ... appealing. Appealing? She is becoming suddenly very attractive to me. Me! A middle-aged expert!
"Sophie, you have another surprise secret to reveal to me, don't you?"
– yes, Robert."
"First half now, and second half tomorrow?"
"Hey, I just guessed that! I have an agile mind but yours is so much sharper, like many women these days. Is it about the sacred feminine in the Delphic Oracle in Greece, Europe, and how that ties in with the famous Olympic Games? And the connection with Sydney, Australia (which successfully hosted the Olympics in 2000)?"
. A bit. But more to do with the Knights Templar, the Illuminati and the mysteriously engraved golden lava lamp my grandfather found buried under the south pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (the famous bridge on many Australian postcards)."
Her French accent is making the hairs on my arm stand on end! Golly, I could really fall for this 'babe' ...
"OK, Sophie. Shoot."
... if she'd only lay off the garlic, already.
* Ø * Ø * Ø *
Fact is, I really am enjoying The Da Vinci Code
, every hyperreal, ignorant, made-for-TV, page of it. It really is hard to put down.
If you haven't done so already, grab a cheap copy at Cafe Diem
. Better still, get it from your library for free, just be prepared to wait six weeks like I did, as it's still very much in demand.