Last time, on The Da Vinci Code, some stuff happened and it was all rather silly. Also we met cryptologist Sophie Neveu and learned a surprising amount about the toilets at the Louvre. Oh, and Jacques Sauniere – in his protracted and astonishingly busy death throes – wrote ‘PS Find Robert Langdon’ on the floor. Obviously this does not look good for Bob.
Unlucky for some, and definitely for us, because we’re still stuck in a pissoir with Robert Langdon, who has just found out he’s a murder suspect.
“Why would Sauniere write this?” Langdon demanded, his confusion giving way to anger. “Why would I want to kill Jacques Sauniere?”
Who knows? I think the bigger mystery right now is what the hell was going on in Sauniere’s head. The man knows he’s got about twenty minutes to live and his thought process seems to be;
- Fuck the patriarchy
- Frame that guy I was going to have dinner with tomorrow, because you may as well go out on a laugh.
I’m kind of sorry he’s dead. The man was clearly as mad as a bag of badgers but you have to admit he sounds interesting.
Langdon says he couldn’t have killed Sauniere because he was in his hotel room at the time. He has an alibi; the concierge will attest that he was there. But then this is the same concierge who lets randos roam up to guests’ rooms at half past midnight, and this guy says Langdon could have left at any time; he doesn’t know. He wasn’t paying attention.
This book is terrible publicity for the Ritz, Paris, isn’t it? I’m picturing some guy sitting with his feet up on the reception desk, picking his teeth and being all like “Yeah, whatever dude,” when someone rolls up to the desk wearing a t-shirt saying ASK ME ABOUT AUTO-EROTIC ASPHYXIATION and wielding a customized chainsaw with dildos sticking out all over it. And the concierge is all “Room 404? Yeah – take the master key. It’s cool. I’m not here to kinkshame.” Agatha Christie novels had led me to believe that the fancier the hotel the more tight-assed the staff are about protecting its reputation, but clearly Saint Aggie’s way out of date.
Anyway, after some more sputtering from Langdon, Sophie explains that Sauniere meant the message for her and Langdon once again has a small meltdown trying to keep pace with whatever Joseph K. mess he’d landed himself in this time. I don’t blame him for this one bit.
Sophie says she knew Sauniere and that the Vitruvian Man was her favourite painting, which is why he decided to lay out his corpse in that pose. Presumably this is a normal thing that people do in Sophieland, because she recognised that this – like the Fibonacci sequence – was his way of saying ‘hey’.
What would have happened if her favourite painting was Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, for example? How was Sauniere going to get hold of a knee-length auburn wig, a pair of tits and a human sized clam shell in a sealed section of the Louvre? Or what if she was into Artemisia Gentileschi? Was he going to saw his own head off? I don’t get it. I suppose it’s very fortunate she happened to like Vitruvian Man.
Sophie’s voice caught, and Langdon heard a sudden melancholy there, a painful past, simmering just below the surface. Sophie and Jacques Sauniere apparently had some kind of special relationship. Langdon studied the beautiful woman before him, aware that aging men in France often took young mistresses.
Gross, Bob. Your first assumption is that she’s some old man’s ‘kept woman’?
Sophie explains that the P.S. was a message to her – Princesse Sophie – and that Jacques Sauniere was her grandfather. Her grandfather, Bob. Now go rinse your mind out with soap and water. Or just chew on the nearest urinal cake.
I like chapter fourteen already. It’s only two pages long.
Collet and Fache watch Langdon’s GPS dot milling around in the men’s room and muse that he’s taking a little too long for their liking.
“Any chance Langdon is onto us?” Fache asked.
Collet shook his head. “We’re still seeing small movements inside the men’s room, so the GPS dot is obviously still on him.”
Honey, if you’re seeing small movements in the men’s room, you might want to eat more fresh produce.
Ah, that’s better. I can’t believe it’s taken me until chapter fourteen to make a poop joke. I love you, chapter fourteen. You don’t last long, but you set up that poop joke like a pro.
Fache does not know that Robert knows about the P.S. Find Robert Langdon on the floor, but then we’re set up for another cliffhanger when someone phones and says there’s something ‘not quite right’ about Sophie.
No shit, Sherlock. Her first reaction on seeing her grandfather’s dead, naked body was ‘Oh, that looks just like my favourite work of art.’ She’s a Sauniere, if nothing else.
…is trying really hard for me to love it as much as I loved chapter fourteen. It’s even shorter, although I don’t know. Is there a poop joke set up?
Silas felt strong as he stepped from the black Audi, the nighttime breeze rustling his loose-fitting robe.
Ah, that’s our Silas. Melting into the background like a drunk, screaming clown with a lit Roman candle sticking out of his rectum. Still, I suppose a man in a monk’s habit wouldn’t be nearly as conspicious in a church as he would…well, just about anywhere else, really.
He knew the task before him would require more finesse than force, and he left his handgun in the car.
Silas, I’m guessing – from the way that you have all your clothes on – that you’re about to kill someone. I know this line of thinking isn’t popular with the NRA, but if you’re setting out to kill someone then don’t you think a gun might help?
But it doesn’t, because a weapon of death has no place in the house of the Lord. No, really. That’s his explanation. I don’t know, either, but you have to admit that this level of cognitive dissonance is kind of characteristic of people who place far too much faith in any one thing, whether that thing is God, the free market or kale.
The plaza before the great church was deserted at this hour, the only visible souls a couple of teenage hookers showing their wares to the late night tourist traffic.
Silas likes what he sees, so he flexes his thigh, making his barbed wire pain garter cut into his flesh. Yeah, those girls are totally not going to be able to pick him out of a line up when the police come asking questions about the murder that’s about to happen.
“Mademoiselle, do you remember seeing anyone enter the church at the time in question? Do you recall what they looked like?”
“Sure. He was a swole, six and half foot albino in a monk’s habit. He came by us, checked out Veronique’s tits, made a weird hissing noise and then stomped into the church trailing blood from under his robe.”
Silas reaches the door of the church. The whole chapter is him getting out of his car and approaching the door. I suppose it’s better than the previous Silas chapter, where he just sat in the car and recalled his backstory.
He raised his ghost white fist and banged three times on the door. Moments later, the bolts of the enormous wooden portal began to move.
In other words, he knocked and the door opened.
I like how this book constantly reminds me of George Orwell’s six little rules of writing. And by ‘reminds me of’ I mean ‘sets fire to, pisses all over and capers cackling in the piss-reeking ashes’.
I like you, chapter fifteen. You were short, but you were more than satisfyingly silly.
…sees Sophie take the reins as the POV character. I must admit that this is one of Dan Brown’s better choices, to go with the third person limited POV. It’s the perfect choice for a novel as shamelessly airporty as this one, especially with these bite size chapters.
We learn that ten years ago Sophie returned from ‘graduate university in England’, to find her grandfather doing something so sinister and awful that we can’t talk about it right now. And they haven’t spoken since then.
Only this time he broke his promise not to try and contact her and called her just that afternoon, to warn her that she is in grave danger and that he needs to tell her the truth about her family.
My family? Sophie’s parents had died when she was only four. Their car went off a bridge into fast moving water. Her grandmother and younger brother had also been in the car, and Sophie’s entire family had been erased in an instant. She had a box of newspaper clippings to confirm it.
Ah yes. The old ‘Worst Day Of My Life’ box of newspaper clippings that everyone keeps around to confirm that their dead relatives are definitely dead.
Sophie is quite strange.
She is also a genius, having been able to complete cryptic crosswords at the age of twelve, although it hasn’t yet occurred to her that the writing on the floor might be a pair of anagrams.
Tonight the cryptographer in Sophie was forced to respect the efficiency with which her grandfather had used a simple code to unite two total strangers – Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon.
What? Sophie, he stripped naked, painted a pentagram in his own blood, doodled around the place with black-light pen and then expired after carefully laying himself out in the geometric pose of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man. That’s not a simple code. Those are the bedlamite flailings of an absolute fucking nutcase. The whole thing was based on him knowing that your favourite work of art was Vitruvian Man, and as if that wasn’t silly enough, now we discover you haven’t spoken in ten years. Is your favourite work of art still the same? Because people change a lot between twenty-two and thirty-two. Who’s to say your tastes haven’t changed? Twenty-two year old Sophie might have loved Vitruvian Man, but thirty-two year old Sophie is drawing a blank because she’s really into Anne Geddes now.
You fucked up, Pop-Pop. You posed your deathbed to look all Leonardo but you really should have dressed up as a baby dressed up as a bee. She’s never going to get that clue.
You know what would have been a simple way to get Sophie to find Robert Langdon? When you called her to tell her she was in terrible danger you could also have said ‘Find Robert Langdon,’ and spent your final moments making your peace with God or whatever instead of attempting to arrange your bloody, spilling giblets into a scavenger hunt clue.
The question was why?
Well, we’d all like to know that.
Sophie stares out of the toilet window so Dan can describe Paris again, because he hasn’t done that for a while. He’s probably like me when I go too long between poop jokes.
She looks down and thinks it’s about forty feet to the ground and there’s no way out of the bathroom window. Then she figures that Robert’s best bet is to run like hell to the US Embassy, which is the closest thing anyone has had to a sensible idea in this novel so far. I’m guessing this brief gasp of sanity won’t last.