He could hear the ancient words . . . the foundation of the Grail legend: Vous ne trouvez pas le Saint-Graal, c’est le Saint-Graal qui vous trouve.

Ah, okay, I’ve not done French since I was sixteen, but this I can figure out for myse-

You do not find the Grail, the Grail finds you.

Oh. Well, if you were just going to give it me in English anyway, and if the character thinking this is a bigoted Brit-toff who hates living in France to begin with, why not just… I mean, when I’m thinking about Audrey Tautou (and this does happen, often in the dark) I don’t default to “Waugh, c’est tres bien” just because she’s froggish. It’s “Fit As” every time. Anyway, since we’re on the subject…

Sophie tilted her head and scanned the list of titles like a Labrador:

Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ
by Ivor Nutherwon

Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail
by J. K. Rowling

Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine
by Shelby Wareyeaux-Levtette

“Here is perhaps the best-known tome,” Teabing said, pulling a tattered hardcover from the stack and handing it to her. The cover read:

The Acclaimed International Bestseller
by Anne Agrahms, Drew Conch-Lucien & Y. L. Tspeculay-Johns

Sophie glanced up with moist eyes, a cold nose and burrs in her luxuriant pelt. “An international bestseller? I’ve never heard of it.” ZIIING!

I want to stop there, but I can’t. Turn the chapter and he continues with –

”You were young. This caused quite a stir back in the nineteen eighties. To my taste, the authors made some dubious leaps of faith in their analysis, but their fundamental premise is sound, and to their credit, they finally brought the idea of Christ’s bloodline into the mainstream.”

Well at least that’s settled. I still can’t get over the number of commas in this thing. The only way to approach this book is as if you are being read to by the super-asthmatic Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle.

And at this point, BAM, it hits you like a ton of bricks: Christ had babies. Now, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or anything – though last vertebrae notwithstanding I certainly would, twenty-four hours a day – but in my last thrilling instalment I fellaciously (heh heh) suggested the following:

Oh, my God, she thought.
I know who I am.

But you see, I was wrong. Never try to run on ahead of An Author, you’ll just fall on your face and still be lying there mixing your tears with blood and snot when he strolls past with a smug look on his phiz. But Chapter 260 leaves no room for doubt: if your surname isn’t a Merovingian one you can just pootle off and join some other messianic wish-list, ‘cause you ain’t one of our Gods. Before their arguably mysterious death by air-car daddy was a Sauniére and mummy was a Chauvel, and that doesn’t cut the mustard here, baby. Again, I’m forced to reassess my patronising attitude towards Dan Brown. There’s a lot going on here and I’m starting to think that if I just shut up and read the damn thing some of it might sink in.

I did, and eventually Silas quits hanging around in the bushes like some priestly stalker (as if…), bangs Langdon in the head and holds Sophie and Teabing at gunpoint, “dressed in a wool robe with a rope tie, he looked like a medieval cleric”; one about to hang himself, presumably. Rather than spoil the surprise of whether or not our heroes are all executed here with 180 chapters still to go, I’m just going to sidetrack onto the possibility that Sophie and Langdon might not have begun to make some kind of emotional connection along the way to this perilous situation; characterisation this “smooth” can mask a great deal of subtlety. Omitting chapter numbers for a moment, we are treated to moments such as –

Sophie’s touch was shaken but tender

– and not to beat about the bush, but Ms. Tautou can give me a tender shaken any time she wants to. Perhaps a better example is this:

Gazing absently out the window, Langdon watched the woods passing by, ghostly pale in the yellow blush what? of the fog lights. The side mirror was tipped inward, brushed askew by branches, and Langdon saw the reflection of Sophie sitting quietly in the back seat. He watched her for a long while uh-huh and felt an unexpected upwelling of contentment uh-huh. Despite his troubles tonight, Langdon was thankful to have landed in such good company.

After several minutes gotcha, as if suddenly what? sensing his eyes on her, Sophie leaned forward and put her hands on his shoulders, giving him a quick rub. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Langdon said, “Somehow.”

Sophie sat back in her seat, and Langdon saw a quiet smile cross her lips. He realised that he too was now grinning (shudder).

Forget what I said about my patronising attitude. Dan Brown is a sociopath.

There are other noteworthy points along the way to my current resting point, a “good” two-thirds of the way to the summit; ask me about the moment of potentially good plotting let down by structural stupidity if you like; or maybe the most pathetic, woefully pointless cliff-hanger to date (save your strength, I may just do a top ten of those before I finish – this will definitely be at Number One). However I will now depart for some much needed beauty sleep, leaving you with the most wonderful, surely intentional, piece of outright comedy demonstrated by The Da Vinci Code so far.

To set the scene: Langdon, Sophie and Teabing (what a horrible word that is by the way; easily the worst of a bad bunch of fucked up anagrams of DB’s pals, that one. I just noticed in his acknowledgements that his agent is called Jason Kaufman. Langdon’s is Jonas Faukman. This isn’t a novel, it’s a Christmas present. I had one just like it starring a giraffe called “D r o f f i l c”… WHEN I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD) …where was I? Oh yes, right:

Langdon, Sophie and the undoubted turn-coat drive their new prisoner (I’ll leave that a mystery) to a secret airfield, there to hop a private jet for Old Blighty in order to track down… something, anyway, when they arrive a plucky newcomer called Richard is waiting with the engines running. He looks a bit edgy when he sees who is along for the ride. Let’s watch.

Teabing said, “My associates and I have urgent business in London. We’ve no time to waste. Please prepare to depart immediately.” As he spoke Teabing took the pistol out of the vehicle and handed it to Langdon.

The pilot’s eyes bulged at the sight of the weapon much as Sophie’s might, had she been driving and not on the back seat, if you recall. He walked over to Teabing and whispered, “Sir, my humble apologies, but my diplomatic flight allowance provides only for you and your manservant. I cannot take your guests.”

“Richard,” Teabing said, smiling warmly, “two thousand pounds sterling and that loaded gun say you can take my guests.” He motioned to the Range Rover. “And the unfortunate fellow in the back.”

Because, if you’re expected to illegally transport wealthy bigots across national boundaries, accompanied by two wanted murderers and the pasty, blood-soaked priest they’ve recently kidnapped, you’re going to want two thousand pounds to sweeten the deal. Aren’t you?


Part Six