In his latest book, the fifth in the Langdon Adventures series, Dan Brown builds a character called Winston - a super smart AI driven computer program. The character is what you’d expect - human like but just so much better at most things.
It would not surprise me if Dan Brown has already built something analogous to write his books for him. Maybe Dan Brown is not a human at all but a computer program designed to write poorly articulated but highly marketable, interesting stories.
For what else would explain five books that have all of the following reliable plot elements.
5 books. Almost all the same. And yet, to Mr. Brown’s credit - I typically read his books as soon as they are out. And that’s because of those anecdotes and factoids. I am a total sucker for that type of trivia.
And the elaborate descriptions of art, artists and architecture. Museums often but also palaces and churches and temples. How lovely.
This time he celebrates the famous landmarks of Spain - in particular - we read and learn a lot about Barcelona’s great Antonin Gaudi and his masterpieces - Casa Mila, Sagrada Familia and even a bit of Park Guell. These are easily some of my favorite buildings so fell in quite quickly.
This book, like others before it - has everything you'd expect.
- Murder of a high-profile individual in a high-profile exotic location (preferably a museum)
- The opportune presence of a gorgeous woman and of Langdon
- Langdon running away with the said beauty from the scene of the crime
- The not so mysterious assassin (even called exactly that in A&D) who kills but is a but the most unassuming pawn
- The high-profile suspect who is of course innocent
- A religious sect, or maybe multiple, thrown into the mix
- The core villain of the story
- The core mystery of the story that often gets diffused by a lesser but perhaps more poetic mystery
- The poetic mystery is always unveiled after the core mystery is unearthed generally by just a chance occurrence to Langdon
And despite all the mundanity, there are some gems as well.
- a great Gaudi quote - “Originality consists of returning to the origin. Thus originality means returning, through ones resources, to the simplicity of the early solutions”
- Building a brain is not a question of technology but of scale.
- El Medina means citadel
- 2/3rd of all stars have arabic derived names because they were discovered by arabic scholars
- Casa Mila chimneys inspired the design of Lucas's stormtrooper helmets
- Ampersand symbol "&" stands for the Latin word “et” that means 'and'
While Origin is definitely not as good as the first couple of Langdon stories, it is definitely better than the last two. And that's all I ask Dan Brown. Keep writing books. The world badly needs stupid escapes just right about now.