Robert Langdon is a scholar, an American art historian who is invited to give a lecture in Paris. What he has not foreseen is that his stay in France is about to take a very bizarre and dangerous turn after he is awaken in the middle of the night by the police: Jacques Saunières, curator of the Louvres, and whom he was supposed to meet that night, was assassinated. The strangest thing is that since he was shot behind security bars, he only can be responsible for the strange mise-en-scène left for the police to witness. Saunières lies naked, in a strange position, and next to him, on the floor, a message that makes no sense; a sequence of numbers and what seems like vague accusations…

After Robert is taken to the scene to help the police with his art expertise, or so it seems, he meets a woman from the cryptography department, Sophie Neveu, who convinces him that he is being framed. From then on, a race against the police and extremist members of the Opus Dei will take place, a race to find the powerful secret Jacques Saunières tried to pass on before dying. Decrypting obscure messages and visiting symbolically charged places, Sophie and Robert will uncover a conspiracy spanning over centuries and a secret threatening the foundations of Christianity…

The Da Vinci code is a fast-paced and intelligent thriller, reminiscent of Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. Easier to read than Eco’s masterpiece, it covers a lot of the same areas. You might enjoy The Da Vinci Code if you have read Foucault’s Pendulum, but you’ll probably enjoy it even more if you haven’t. The secret at the core of the novel might surprise you, but you also might see it coming if you have heard about this theory (I have to remain “cryptic” so I don’t spoil the story). I still learned a lot about Leonardo Da Vinci and the hidden symbolism in his paintings. My advice: have an art history book handy when you read the novel…

I really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, even if it isn’t all innovative. I found that the main characters sometimes lack perspicacity: some messages are not all that hard to crack and I was annoyed that I could easily solve some riddles before the protagonists (mainly at the beginning, afterwards, they become really challenging). I also found the way the author hides information to delay key revelations a bit clumsy at times. However I didn’t get bored, I had fun all along and I learned many things, therefore I this this book deserves a 4 despite its flaws…

Rating: 4/5