Published:  12:00 AM, 16 March 2017 Last Update: 04:07 AM, 16 March 2017

Dan Brown: A craftsman of masterful thrillers

aTom Hanks & Audrey Tautou from the movie The Da Vinci Code, based on the novel as same name by Dan Brown

When I first read the amazing novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown a few years ago, I was simply astounded with the resplendence of the book. Before buying a copy of the book, I had read in newspapers about the sensation and controversy the novel had created following its publication in 2003.

The plot of the book takes place in Paris, to be more precise inside the Louvre, the largest museum of the world. It starts off with the mysterious murder of the Louvre Curator Jacques Sauniere. Robert Langdon, a symbol expert from Harvard University gets entangled in the murder through some complex signs and scribbles left by the slain Louvre Curator. Some cryptically inscribed lines written on the famous painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci was a clue to find the reason behind the mysterious killing. Sophie, an officer of the French intelligence department who was also the granddaughter of Jacques Sauniere, soon joined Robert Langdon. Robert Langdon evaded French police with the help of Sophie and continued his search for the meanings of the puzzling lines written on Mona Lisa and around the corpse of Jacques Sauniere. 

Another magnetic character of the novel is Silas. He belongs to a sect of Christianity known as Opus Die (God's way). He is found ominously moving around Paris in search of the Holy Grail, which has been believed for years to be a cup that contained some drops of blood that shed from the body of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Silas keeps on hunting for the Holy Grail according to the orders from his priest Father Aringarosa, who, on the other hand, receives dictations from an anonymous caller that speaks to him over his cell phone identifying himself as the 'Teacher'. Robert Langdon and Sophie go through a perilous ordeal facing dangers one after another while trying to locate the Holy Grail. Silas, the albino in a killing frenzy, claimed the lives of two human beings-the Curator of Louvre and a nun in a church where he went to search for the Holy Grail. Even Silas dogged Langdon and Sophie hard on their heels to kill them since he took them as his rivals on the same quest. The superb thriller comes to an end with the discovery of the sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene by Robert Langdon at the bottom of the Louvre Museum.

Dan Brown came back with a bang in 2009. His novel The Lost Symbol once again proved him to be an exceptionally great author of the current age with the terrific thrill, vibrant sequence of events and brilliant characterization. This time, all these features seem to be far more sharpened with a unique blend of history, religions, philosophy, science, art, politics and of course, symbols. The Lost Symbol describes a tremendously suspenseful chain of events happening through just one night in Washington DC. The story begins with a prologue introducing a mysterious man who was undergoing the inclusion process to become an extraordinary member of the Freemasons through something like a pagan ceremony. In the first chapter we catch a closer glimpse of a vicious man and get to know his name--'Mal'akh'. He appears to be a scary human being with a bizarre spectrum of tattoos all over his body except the top of his head that he vows to fill with the missing part of something that he believes will transform him into a complete 'masterpiece'. He hints with a laconic smile at his impending task later that evening which would jolt the heartland of US administration.

On top of all the suspense and excitement, Dan Brown makes us familiar with some extraordinary horizons of knowledge through his characters. Katherine, a scientist has been involved in an outstanding research on the untapped powers of human mind, a field known as Neotic Science. Katherine has been absorbed for many years in a relentless endeavor to explore the superb features of our thought power, which is capable of producing physical effects on the world around us. Katherine lays a lot of emphasis on the mystic contemplations of ancient sages, philosophers and prophets. She intends to revive the spiritual power of human beings. The ultimate power of transforming the world into a peaceful, safe and heavenly abode lies in ancient mysticism, in our spiritual domain, Katherine believes.

The antagonist of the story Mal'akh is direly against the idea of unveiling the hidden unexplored potentialities of the human brains through the exercise of Neotic Science. He believes in the dark powers that hold humans subjugated to the limitations of their knowledge. He is an arch enemy of the Freemasons too. He doesn't want Katherine to go ahead with her extraordinary research on the undiscovered territories of human wisdom. Mal'akh is such a fanatic that he even wants to sacrifice his own life to eliminate the progress of humans towards the top of such an intellect which no one has ever imagined.

Mal'akh had a diabolic aim of embarrassing the US administration by exposing to the world that many high-ranking American government officials were Freemasons. He also wanted to spread the video clips of some secret Masonic rituals on the internet that apparently looked like black magic. But the tenacity of Robert Langdon, Katherine and intervention by CIA foiled his plans.

The most eye-catching aspect of the novel is the reference to the founding fathers of America like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who had dreamt to build the United States as a theocratic country. Their firm faith in 'One True God' comes to light as Robert Langdon, Katherine and the CIA staff proceeded with their investigation. Robert Langdon stares with wonder at the peak of the Washington Monument as the morning sunlight radiated on it. Langdon's stream of consciousness is described by Dan Brown in a lovely manner: "The first ray of sunlight to hit the nation's capital, every single day, did so by illuminating two words: Laus Deo". 'Laus Deo' are archaic Latin words meaning 'Praise God'.  This is how Dan Brown exposes The Lost Symbol as the symbol of God, an omnipresent emblem forgotten by most of the people, an obvious sign glorifying the Architect of the Universe.

In Dan Brown's another splendid novel Inferno, Professor Robert Langdon of Harvard University is appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to find out a lethal virus. This organism was created by Bertrand Zobrist, a crackpot scientist who wanted to reduce the world's overpopulation by killing millions of people through spreading a plague. This is another nerve-raking story narrating Robert Langdon's hazardous strife with adversaries to trace out the virus and to stop the outbreak of this plague by resisting Bertrand Zobrist. This book also encompasses a great deal of symbols, signs and secret codes which Robert Langdon had to demystify to solve his case.  Dan Brown is one of the top-ranking American authors of current era who has been enthralling readers with his masterfully written fictional works for last several years. His other novels Deception Point, Angels and Demons and Digital Fortress also received high appreciation from readers.

The writer is a literary analyst  for The Asian Age


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