By Dan Brown
"The teachings of all religions did indeed have one thing in common. They were all dead wrong." Blockbuster novelist Dan Brown's predilection for gleeful melodrama has clearly not waned, as he guns straight into the eye of a storm of controversy with his latest thriller Origin.
In advance of its Oct 3 release, publisher Doubleday is revealing a first glimpse of the book, which will be the fifth to feature Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon.
Langdon traditionally goes about using his historical knowledge to decode ancient mysteries and avert great catastrophes. His last apperance was in Inferno, Brown's 2013 bestseller, the mystery of which revolved around the relics of medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri.
Now, we catch up with him at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. In a change of pace, he is struggling not with deadly assassins but modern art (one gets a sense from his dismissive descriptions that he would prefer the assassins). But this is a Dan Brown novel, and we are under no illusions that Langdon will soon have more on his plate than wondering what Louise Bourgeois is trying to say with her giant metal spiders.
Langdon is there as part of a mystery conference by his former student Edmond Kirsch, now a billionaire computer scientist who at the age of 33 compared himself to Jesus Christ for inventing a computer programme that rescued the European Union from bankruptcy.
Kirsch has earlier travelled to a Catalonian monastery for an audience with leaders of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, claiming to have made a discovery that will destroy the foundations of their religions.
Brown likes to not so much foreshadow as to bludgeon readers over the head with hype, and we are reminded repeatedly in the prologue how earth-shattering this discovery will be, with no hint as to why. One can only raise an eyebrow at his grandiose claims and hope that come October, he can deliver.
For the prologue and chapter one of Origin, see here.