Dan Brown’s first foray into the world of entertainment was as a singer and songwriter. He released two CDs before turning his attention to writing – a very wise decision. His fourth novel made him a literary rock star. Perhaps you have heard of it – The Da Vinci Code.

There is some great news regarding Brown. His fifth novel, The Lost Symbol (formerly referred to as The Solomon Key) will hit shelves on September 15! Pre-orders are being taken on several sites, and I’ll be pre-ordering my own copy very soon. As is his nature, Brown is being secretive about much of the plot. It will feature cryptologist Robert Langdon and will be set in Washington, D.C. The jacket of The Da Vinci code holds clues to the plot.

Oh, yes. The other news. The movie Angels and Demons, based on the novel of the same name, will be in theaters on Friday. I doubt that it will come close to the success of Da Vinci Code, but spillover popularity should still turn it into a very successful film.

I’m a big fan of Brown’s work. Let’s do a mini-review of his previous novels.

Digital Fortress, 1998. Digital Fortress focuses very heavily on cryptography. A rebellious, genius programmer develops an uncrackable encryption algorithm and offers to auction it off to the highest bidder. This could be a huge problem for the United State government, which has just finished work on TRANSLTR, a computer capable of cracking any encryption algorithm known to man. It is imperative that the code not fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, the programmer dies – bringing into play the threat that his partner would publicly release the code if he should die. He is not the only person to die in a high stakes battle to control the code. Opinion: a reasonable understanding of computers makes the book more enjoyable, but it isn’t mandatory. There is a lot of action in the book that is unrelated to the technical issues.

Angels and Demons, 2000. Angels and Demons introduces us to world renowned cryptologist Robert Langdon. A dangerous weapon – a canister of anti-matter – is stolen from CERN and a scientist is murdered. The symbol of the mysterious Illuminati group – a group though to have died out long ago – is left branded on the chest of the victim. The head of the lab calls in Langdon to try to track down the missing canister. Langdon reaches the conclusion that the missing canister is connected to the election of a new pope. As Langdon races against the clock to find the canister, leading papal candidates begin turning up dead. Opinion: this is the prequel to Da Vinci Code, and is a pretty good book in its own right. It might come up a bit short of Da Vinci Code in some respects, but it does take readers on a nice tour of Rome.

Deception Point , 2001. Deception Point takes place in the arctic, where Rachel Sexton is sent to join a team that will analyze a meteorite. Evidence of life is contained with the meteorite – possible proof of extraterrestrial life. But Rachel soon realizes that things aren’t quite what they seem – and very soon, her life is in danger. Opinion: an interesting story with a good mix of science and politics.

The Da Vinci Code, 2003. Robert Langdon is once again awakened in the middle of the night to be informed of a grisly death, this time at the Louvre. A beautiful police cryptologist (Sophie) secretly informs Langdon that the police are not merely using him as a consultant in the case, but that he is the prime suspect. Langdon and Sophie make a tricky exit from the Louvre and elude the police. They combine forces in an attempt to solve the murder. As they put more pieces together, more complex puzzles appear. They eventually discover a truth that could rock Christianity to its core. Opinion: This is a great book, with clever ciphers and lots of twists and turns. It is, of course, a work of fiction. As a Catholic, I believe that the Catholic Church contributed to the success of the book and movie by attacking the book. Had they simply ignored the book – as they ignore many books that contain content related to the church – much of the furor could have been avoided.

The Lost Symbol

Da Vinci Code

Angels & Demons

Deception Point

Digital Fortress

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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