The second of Dan Brown's books to feature Robert Langdon, "The Da Vinci Code" opens in Paris with the death of Jacques Sauniere. Murdered by a mysterious albino, Sauniere - the curator of the Louvre - realises that a highly important secret will die with him if he doesn't find some way of passing it on.
A short time later, Langdon is woken by a phone call. A professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University and the author of several books, his first adventure was outlinedin "Angels and Demons" - the events of which have turned him into something of a celebrity. In Paris on business, the phone call leads him to the Louvre at the request of the DCPF - officially to lend his experience and knowledge at the crime scene. Sauniere's body had been found in a very strange position, with a number of codes, symbols and phrases written on and around the corpse. Furthermore, it's clear that Sauniere himself was responsible for writing the codes. As Langdon puzzles over the meaning of what he sees, Sophie Neveu, a French cryptologist, arrives at the scene. She provided interesting information on the meaning of the codes, and some disturbing information for Langdon himself. It seems that, rather than being asked along for his expertise, he is instead the prime suspect. Langdon and Neveu go on the run - trying to avoid arrest and the albino, while also trying to solve the mysterious sequence left by Sauniere.
After I'd heard so many positive reports about this book, I found it a huge disappointment. Langdon wasn't an entirely likeable character - there have been few books where I've so badly wanted the 'bad guy' to throttle the 'good guy' - while Neveu, his sidekick, sometimes appeared almost gullible. Bearing in mind both Langdon's and Neveu's professions it was almost shocking watching them struggle with some of the most obvious clues. While Dan Brown may have been an English teacher, this book does little to support the suggestion that he is a "master craftsman". The twists and turns I'd heard so much about were pretty obvious, while certain words and phrases were used to the point of distraction. On the other hand, the story is easily enough followed - you won't have to concentrate to figure out what's going on. It'll be a brainless way to pass a few hours on a long flight or on the beach. On the whole, though, I think I'd recommend "Foucault's Pendulum", by Umberto Eco instead. It has a similar 'theme' to "The Da Vinci Code", but is a much more absorbing book.