Time to come clean: I’m struggling with the last quarter of this book.
This is due to a lot of things, the main one being that moving house is very expensive. And because it costs a fortune, I’m having to write harder and more often in order to save myself from impending and total financial embarrassment. Obviously trying to bang out 2000 words a day is not conducive to writing at great length about why The Da Vinci Code is a hilariously silly book.
So, for the time being I’m updating only on Mondays.
The other reason why I’m having trouble is because the book is finally lumbering to the supposedly thrilly portion of the whole thriller thing and it’s just…not. I’m somewhere around chapter seventy eight and there’s all these double crosses and twists going on and they’re all about as exciting as a white bread and mayonnaise sandwich.
Also Teabag is still hanging on. God damn him.
Previously on The Da Vinci Code, Bob recognised some more wood, Teabag was dreadful and the bishop was sick. But fear not, because hulking Lennie-a-like Silas has busted into Chateau Villette, presumably to fuck things up in the magical way that only Silas can.
…opens with Sophie at gunpoint.
Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair.
You know what’s almost inconceivable? That this passive-voice clunker of a sentence somehow made it past an editor.
Sophie could not imagine who he was and yet she was feeling a sudden newfound respect for Teabing’s suspicions that the Church was behind this.
Well, yes. That is what happens when you send a huge, conspicuous monk to do the job of a quiet, unobtrusive person with a lead-lined vial of polonium.
Silas tells them he wants the keystone, but Teabag says no and is surprised to discover that Silas even knows about the keystone in the first place. Silas once again tells him to stand up hand it over but Teabag explains that he’s on crutches and standing is difficult for him, but he gets up and attempts to hand Silas the keystone anyway.
“You will not succeed,” Teabing said. “Only the worthy can unlock this stone.”
And he does so with a twatty Renn Faire flourish, because of course he does. Teabag, you really are the worst.
There then follows an actiony bit of business in which Teabag threatens to drop the heavy keystone and Silas leaps forward to grab it, lowering his gun long enough for Teabag to swing a crutch and smack him right in the cilice.
Splinters of pain tore up Silas’s body as the crutch made perfect contact with his already raw flesh.
It’s almost like walking around with a deliberate open wound makes you vulnerable or something.
Buckling, Silas crumpled to his knees, causing the belt to cut deeper still. The pistol discharged with a deafening roar, the bullet burying itself harmlessly in the floorboards as Silas fell.
And that gun is still roaring. He should really get that looked at. I admit I’m more familiar with shotguns than handguns, but I’ve never known one to roar before.
Meanwhile, Collet hears the gunshot and makes the kind of executive decision that promises to turn these next few chapters into the kind of clusterfuck that should be at all times accompanied by a loud, looped track of Yackety Sax.
Collet knew the opportunity for a stealth approach had long since passed. He also knew if he stood by for another second, his entire career would be history by morning. Eyeing the estate’s iron gate, he made his decision. “Tie on, and pull it down.”
Yeeeesss. Bring the chaos.
We return to the Chateau to find Bob coming round from being knocked out.
Somewhere nearby, people were talking.
“Where the devil were you?” Teabing was yelling.
The manservant hurried in. “What happened? Oh my God! Who is that? I’ll call the police.”
Calling it now – the butler is in this thing up to his neck.
Bob comes round and finds himself staring at Silas, who is bound and gagged with duct tape. He quite reasonably thinks he’s hallucinating and then says the thing everyone is contractually obliged to say after being knocked out for any length of time.
Only with more unnecessary ellipses, because this is Dan Brown, after all.
Teabing hobbled over. “You were rescued by a knight brandishing an Excalibur made by Acme Orthopaedic.”
Okay, I actually feel sorry for Bob, for maybe the first time in this entire book. He’s been smacked over the head, is completely disorientated and now he has to deal with some kind of Tom Bombadil scone-golem who won’t let up with the twee little riddly metaphors despite the fact that Bob may very well be bleeding into his brain right now.
But Teabag is not done. He’s got to do some Poirot shit about how he knew Silas was Opus Dei because of the barbed wire kink garter currently staining his robe.
Teabing was looking closely at the bloody belt. “But why would Opus Dei be trying to find the Holy Grail?”
I don’t know, Teabag. Right now I have no idea why anyone would be trying to find the Holy Grail, since you’ve basically told me that it amounts to a pile of unverifiable old bones and a cock and bull story so full of holes that you could use it to strain spaghetti. You know what? Instead of yearning after the Magdalene your whole life, why didn’t you try honouring the ‘sacred feminine’ by – oh, I don’t know – maybe treating women like members of the same species as you. Now that’s a Holy Grail that all men should seek.
At this point Sophie finds the bit that Langdon popped off the box with a paperclip, and asks what it is. Langdon says the text might tell them how to open the keystone, but he doesn’t get to solve any anagrams just yet because there are shitloads of police advancing on the Chateau.
I’m quite glad of them, actually. I don’t think I could stand another anagram challenge right now.
It’s carnage time!
Collet and his agents bust into Teabag’s place with their guns drawn.
They found a bullet hole in the drawing room floor, signs of a struggle, a strange, barbed leather belt and a partially used role of duct tape.
In any other book this might be interesting, except for maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, which managed to make BDSM not only mainstream but really, really boring. (And no, I’m not doing Fifty Shades of Grey next, because I’ve already been there, done that and wrote the parody. Please buy my book. Thank you.)
The police hear voices from a bedroom and go off in the direction of the bedroom, only to find the bedroom empty.
The voices had stopped suddenly, and had been replaced by an odd rumbling, like an engine.
Basically there’s an intercom system in the house and Bob and friends have turned it to transmit to that bedroom, so Collet thinks that’s where the voices are coming from. They’re actually in the barn/garage, where they’re making their escape, because there is still a sizeable chunk of book to go and Bob’s just found another clue in their increasingly pointless-looking search for the Holy McGuffin.
So much for that carnage, then.
Our dingbat heroes, along with the hellish Teabag, his shifty butler and a duct-tape wrapped Silas, are currently escaping from Chateau Villette in a Range Rover.
Langdon, cradling the keystone, turned in the passenger seat and eyed Sophie and Teabing in the back seat.
“How’s your head, Robert?” Sophie asked, sounding concerned.
Langdon forced a pained smiled. “Better, thanks.” It was killing him.
Good. It should. Everyone knows there is only one correct answer to the question “How’s your head?”
Also there is a disproportionate amount of eyeing in this book. It’s a weird verbal tic, like roaring guns.
Beside her, Teabing glanced over his shoulder at the bound and gagged monk lying in the cramped luggage area behind the backseat.
Doot doot doot, just driving around with my monk in the hatchback. Don’t mind me.
Teabing had the monk’s gun on his lap and looked like an old photo of a British safari chap posing over his kill.
You mean he looked like a white Imperialist mediocrity striking a pose of unmerited entitlement over the body of something far more beautiful and interesting than…oh wait, no. Okay. I’m going to have to hand this one to Dan Brown; he nailed that simile.
And don’t kill Silas, you douchebag. He’s the funniest character in this book, mostly because Dan Brown clearly wrote him with a very, very straight face. Teabag is the opposite. He’s that cringy thing that happens when a person with no sense of humour attempts to write a witty, amusing character.
There are a couple of pages of pointless driving around, which even Langdon gets tired of because he reaches for the box and decides to make a start on the next annoying anagram challenge or whatever treasure hunt clue Sauniere has left them to follow. This was the hidden compartment he found in the lid of the box that held the cryptex, if you remember, which you probably don’t because at this point in the book we’re finding mcguffins within mcguffins, like a Matryoshka doll of mcguffins.
He unlatched the lid and began to raise it, when Teabing laid a hand on his shoulder from behind.
“Patience, Robert,” Teabing said. “It’s bumpy and dark. God save us if we break anything. If you didn’t recognise the language in the light, you won’t do any better in the dark. Let’s focus on getting away in one piece, shall we? There will be time for that very soon.”
In other words, let’s spin this shit out for another few chapters. How long did it take them to finally burp out the underwhelming truth about the Holy Grail? Three chapters? Four? It felt like forever, and not in a good way.
In the back, Silas starts moaning and trying to escape from his makeshift duct-tape cocoon, prompting Teabag to start talking like a cunt again.
“I can’t imagine your complaint, sir. You trespassed in my home and planted a nasty welt in the skull of a dear friend. I would be well within my rights to shoot you right now and leave you to rot in the woods.”
This is one of the worst character voices in human history. He sounds like an even prissier cross between C3PO and Sir Didymus from Labyrinth, only not cute, charming or riding on an Old English sheepdog.
“Are you sure we should have brought him?” Langdon asked.
“Bloody well positive!” Teabing exclaimed. “You’re wanted for murder, Robert. This scoundrel is your ticket to freedom…”
Uh, not sure how they know Silas is definitely the real killer of Sauniere and the other three victims. I mean, I suppose you could say that they guessed he was, on account of him being a gunwielding, bloodstained maniac, but these are not smart people. I think they probably just know Silas is the real murderer mostly because the author also knows that.
“This monk is not working alone, Robert,” Teabing said. “And until you learn who is behind all this, you both are in danger. The good news, my friend, is that you are now in the position of power. This monster behind me holds that information, and whoever is pulling his strings has got to be quite nervous right now.”
Oh dear. Does this mean they’re going to torture Silas? I freely admit, I wouldn’t last five minutes of being tortured by Teabag. He wouldn’t even have to bust out the thumbscrews or the wet towels and the hose. Within about two minutes of listening to him witter smugly about how jolly bloody awfully British he is and I’d be curled up in a ball on the floor, begging for death.
Anyway, Teabag gets hold of a phone and calls someone named Richard and says he needs to ‘pop up to the Isles’ for medical treatment. So this rich prick is happy to live as a tax exile in France but swings by to use the NHS when it suits him. Nice. He tells Richard to have ‘Elizabeth’ ready.
“Elizabeth?” Langdon said.
“My plane. She cost me a Queen’s ransom.”
Ha ha. Funny. Although I suppose it would be a little too on the nose to call the plane Deus Ex Machina.
Meanwhile, in the back of the Range Rover, Silas is having the time of his life choking on dust particles and making a note of everyone’s nationalities.
“I think he’s choking,” the French driver said, sounding concerned.
The British man who had struck Silas with his crutch now turned and peered over the seat, frowning coldly at Silas. “Fortunately for you, we British judge man’s civility not by his compassion for his friends, but his compassion for his enemies.” The Brit reached down and grabbed the duct tape on Silas’s mouth. In one fast motion, he tore it off.
I’m glad we established that Teabag is so British that it bears repeating three times in one paragraph.
Silas felt as if his lips had just caught fire, but the air pouring into his lungs was sent from God.
“Whom do you work for?” the British man demanded.
You know that feeling of intense frustration when you watch someone fucking up the same thing in the same way over and over again until you feel like your brain is about to explode with the desperate desire to intervene and/or start screaming uncontrollably? Yeah. That. Still, I suppose Silas got his lips exfoliated. That’s something.
Silas refuses to tell Teabag why Opus Dei wants the keystone and then prays for a miracle. I also know that feeling.
This is all happening in one cramped Land Rover by the way – three men, one woman and a trussed up monk. While Teabag is interrogating Silas, Bob and Sophie go into one of those weird trances that characters often seem to go into in this book when the author has no idea what to do with them or when it’s time for an infodump.
Thankfully for Bob and Sophie, Dan needs them to do something, so they snap out of their trance and get back in the game.
“Robert?” Sophie was still watching him. “A funny look just crossed your face.”
It’s probably gas. That or he’s had one of his ideas.
Langdon glanced back at her, realising his jaw was firmly set and his heart was racing.
An incredible notion had just occurred to him.
Oh dear. He was having an idea after all.
He asks Sophie to borrow her phone, and she says okay, but keep it under a minute in case Fache is tracing the calls, then Bob dials away ‘knowing that the next sixty seconds might answer a question that had been puzzling him all night’.