Monday, July 03, 2006

browne's the da vinci mole: a philosophical parody

Like the book that it parodies, The Da Vinci Mole is full of conspiracy and puzzles. The mysterious Dr. Ian Browne (a well-known figure whose real identity is not revealed) weaves together a suspenseful story that ties together Scientology, Karl Rove, W, aliens, Mars, and Proctor & Gamble. When Eric San Leté (anagram for “Secret Alien”), curator of New York City’s Whitney Museum, is found dead, modern art professor Hank Thomas is called in to figure out the cryptic message hidden inside a reproduction of a Jackson Pollack painting that Leté left next to his body. French exchange student and granddaughter of Leté, Saphie Paradise, joins Hank in his quest to decode the riddles that Leté has left behind. Browne has combined research with fiction (there’s a bibliography at the end of the book), leaving readers to wonder what is fact and what is fiction. Browne pokes fun at The Da Vinci Code, too; at one point, Hank asks, “But what if we spend many days and risk countless dangers tracking down this secret, only to have it turn out to be a secret that your grandfather never wants revealed anyway and so our efforts would be pointless?” Saphie replies, “That would be absurd, Hank. That would make no sense at all.” Black and white line drawings help illustrate the puzzles and add dimension to characters that couldn’t happen otherwise in such a short book.

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