"Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished
writers in the country. THE DA VINCI CODE is many notches above the
intelligent thriller; this is pure genius."
-NELSON DeMILLE, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Intrigue and menace mingle in one of the finest mysteries I’ve ever
read. An amazing tale with enigma piled on secrets stacked on
-CLIVE CUSSLER, #1 New York Times bestseller
"Dan Brown is my new must-read. THE DA VINCI CODE is fascinating
and absorbing -- perfect for history buffs, conspiracy nuts, puzzle lovers
or anyone who appreciates a great, riveting story. I loved this
-HARLAN COBEN, New York Times bestselling author of Tell No One
"The Da Vinci Code sets the hook-of-all-hooks, and takes off
down a road that is as eye-opening as it is page-turning. You simply
cannot put this book down. Thriller readers everywhere will soon
realize Dan Brown is a master."
-VINCE FLYNN, New York Times bestselling author of Separation of
"I would never have believed that this is my kind of thriller, but I'm
going to tell you something--the more I read, the more I had to read. In The
Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has built a world that is rich in fascinating
detail, and I could not get enough of it. Mr. Brown, I am your fan."
ROBERT CRAIS, New York Times bestselling author of Hostage
About the Author
DAN BROWN is the bestselling author of Digital Fortress, Angels
& Demons, and Deception Point. He lives in New England.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Robert Langdon awoke slowly.
A telephone was ringing in the darkness--a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He
fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his
surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture,
hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed.
Where the hell am I?
The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram:
HOTEL RITZ PARIS.
Slowly, the fog began to lift.
Langdon picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
"Monsieur Langdon?" a man's voice said. "I hope I have not
Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been
asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead.
"This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but
you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent."
Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor? His eyes focused now on a
crumpled flyer on his bedside table.
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS
An evening with Robert Langdon
Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University
Langdon groaned. Tonight's lecture--a slide show about pagan symbolism
hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral--had probably ruffled some
conservative feathers in the audience. Most likely, some religious scholar
had trailed him home to pick a fight.
"I'm sorry," Langdon said, "but I'm very tired and--"
"Mais monsieur," the concierge pressed, lowering his voice
to an urgent whisper. "Your guest is an important man."
Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult
symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last
year Langdon's visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his
involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the
stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had
"If you would be so kind," Langdon said, doing his best to remain
polite, "could you take the man's name and number, and tell him I'll
try to call him before I leave Paris on Tuesday? Thank you." He hung
up before the concierge could protest.
Sitting up now, Langdon frowned at his bedside Guest Relations Handbook,
whose cover boasted: SLEEP LIKE A BABY IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS. SLUMBER AT
THE PARIS RITZ.
He turned and gazed tiredly into the full-length mirror across the room.
The man staring back at him was a stranger--tousled and weary.
You need a vacation, Robert.
The past year had taken a heavy toll on him, but he didn't appreciate
seeing proof in the mirror. His usually sharp blue eyes looked hazy and
drawn tonight. A dark stubble was shrouding his strong jaw and dimpled
chin. Around his temples, the gray highlights were advancing, making their
way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair. Although his female
colleagues insisted the gray only accentuated his bookish appeal, Langdon
If Boston Magazine could see me now.
Last month, much to Langdon's embarrassment, Boston Magazine had
listed him as one of that city's top ten most intriguing people--a dubious
honor that made him the brunt of endless ribbing by his Harvard colleagues.
Tonight, three thousand miles from home, the accolade had resurfaced to
haunt him at the lecture he had given.
"Ladies and gentlemen . . ." the hostess had announced to a
full-house at The American University of Paris's Pavillon Dauphine,
"Our guest tonight needs no introduction. He is the author of numerous
books: The Symbology of Secret Sects, The Art of the Illuminati, The
Lost Language of Ideograms, and when I say he wrote the book on
Religious Iconology, I mean that quite literally. Many of you use his
textbooks in class."
The students in the crowd nodded enthusiastically.
"I had planned to introduce him tonight by sharing his impressive
curriculum vitae, however . . ." She glanced playfully at Langdon, who
was seated onstage. "An audience member has just handed me a far more,
shall we say . . . intriguing introduction."
She held up a copy of Boston Magazine.
Langdon cringed. Where the hell did she get that?
The hostess began reading choice excerpts from the inane article, and
Langdon felt himself sinking lower and lower in his chair. Thirty seconds
later, the crowd was grinning, and the woman showed no signs of letting up.
"And Mr. Langdon's refusal to speak publicly about his unusual role in
last year's Vatican conclave certainly wins him points on our
intrigue-o-meter." The hostess goaded the crowd. "Would you like
to hear more?"
The crowd applauded.
Somebody stop her, Langdon pleaded as she dove into the article
"Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like
some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than
his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an
unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe
as 'chocolate for the ears.''
The hall erupted in laughter.
Langdon forced an awkward smile. He knew what came next--some ridiculous
line about "Harrison Ford in Harris tweed"--and because this
evening he had figured it was finally safe again to wear his Harris tweed
and Burberry turtleneck, he decided to take action.
"Thank you, Monique," Langdon said, standing prematurely and
edging her away from the podium. "Boston Magazine clearly has a
gift for fiction." He turned to the audience with an embarrassed sigh.
"And if I find which one of you provided that article, I'll have the
consulate deport you."
The crowd laughed.
"Well, folks, as you all know, I'm here tonight to talk about the
power of symbols . . ."
* * *
The ringing of Langdon's hotel phone once again broke the silence.
Groaning in disbelief, he picked up. "Yes?"
As expected, it was the concierge. "Mr. Langdon, again my apologies. I
am calling to inform you that your guest is now en route to your room. I
thought I should alert you."
Langdon was wide awake now. "You sent someone to my room?"
"I apologize, monsieur, but a man like this . . . I cannot presume the
authority to stop him."
"Who exactly is he?"
But the concierge was gone.
Almost immediately, a heavy fist pounded on Langdon's door.
Uncertain, Langdon slid off the bed, feeling his toes sink deep into the
savonniere carpet. He donned the hotel bathrobe and moved toward the door.
"Who is it?"
"Mr. Langdon? I need to speak with you." The man's English was
accented--a sharp, authoritative bark. "My name is Lieutenant Jerome
Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire."
Langdon paused. The Judicial Police? The DCPJ were the rough
equivalent of the U.S. FBI.
Leaving the security chain in place, Langdon opened the door a few inches.
The face staring back at him was thin and washed out. The man was
exceptionally lean, dressed in an official-looking blue uniform.
"May I come in?" the agent asked.
Langdon hesitated, feeling uncertain as the stranger's sallow eyes studied
him. "What is this is all about?"
"My capitaine requires your expertise in a private
"Now?" Langdon managed. "It's after midnight."
"Am I correct that you were scheduled to meet with curator of the
Louvre this evening? "
Langdon felt a sudden surge of uneasiness. He and the revered curator
Jacques Saunière had been slated to meet for drinks after Langdon's
lecture tonight, but Saunière had never shown up. "Yes. How did you
"We found your name in his daily planner."
"I trust nothing is wrong?"
The agent gave a dire sigh and slid a Polaroid snapshot through the narrow
opening in the door.
When Langdon saw the photo, his entire body went rigid.
"This photo was taken less than an hour ago. Inside the Louvre."
As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock
gave way to a sudden upwelling of anger. "Who would do this!"
"We had hoped that you might help us answer that very question.
Considering your knowledge in symbology and your plans to meet with
Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image
was gruesome and profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense
of deja vu. A little over a year ago, Langdon had received a photograph of
a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had
almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely
different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly
The agent checked his watch. "My captain is waiting, sir."
Langdon barely heard him. His eyes were still riveted on the picture.
"This symbol here, and the way his body is so oddly . . ."
"Positioned?" the agent offered.
Langdon nodded, feeling a chill as he looked up. "I can't imagine who
would do this to someone."
The agent looked grim. "You don't understand, Mr. Langdon. What you
see in this photograph . . ." He paused. "Monsieur Saunière did
that to himself."
One mile away, the hulking albino named Silas limped through the front gate
of the luxurious brownstone residence on Rue la Bruyere. The spiked cilice
belt that he wore around his thigh cut into his flesh, and yet his soul
sang with satisfaction of service to the Lord.
Pain is good.
His red eyes scanned the lobby as he entered the residence. Empty. He
climbed the stairs quietly, not wanting to awaken any of his fellow
numeraries. His bedroom door was open; locks were forbidden here. He
entered, closing the door behind him.
The room was spartan--hardwood floors, a pine dresser, a canvas mat in the
corner that served as his bed. He was a visitor here this week, and yet for
many years he had been blessed with a similar sanctuary in New York City.
The Lord has provided me shelter and purpose in my life.
Tonight, at last, Silas felt he had begun to repay his debt. Hurrying to
the dresser, he found the cell phone hidden in his bottom drawer and placed
a call to a private extension.
"Yes?" a male voice answered.
"Teacher, I have returned."
"Speak," the voice commanded, sounding pleased to hear from him.
"All four are gone. The three sénéchaux . . .
and the Grand Master himself."
There was a momentary pause, as if for prayer. "Then I assume you have
"All four concurred. Independently."
"And you believed them?"
"Their agreement was too great for coincidence."
An excited breath. "Excellent. I had feared the brotherhood's
reputation for secrecy might prevail."
"The prospect of death is strong motivation."
"So, my pupil, tell me what I must know."
Silas knew the information he had gleaned from his victims would come as a
shock. "Teacher, all four confirmed the existence of the clef de voûte
. . . the legendary keystone."
He heard a quick intake of breath over the phone and could feel the
Teacher's excitement. "The keystone. Exactly as we
According to lore, the brotherhood had created a map of stone--a clef de voûte
. . . or keystone--an engraved tablet that revealed the final
resting place of the brotherhood's greatest secret...information so
powerful that its protection was the reason for the brotherhood's very
"When we possess the keystone," the Teacher said, "we will
be only one step away."
"We are closer than you think. The keystone is here in Paris."
"Paris? Incredible. It is almost too easy."
Silas relayed the earlier events of the evening . . . how all four of his
victims, moments before death, had desperately tried to buy back their
godless lives by telling their secret. Each had told Silas the exact same
thing--that the keystone was ingeniously hidden at a precise location
inside one of Paris's ancient churches--the Eglise de Saint-Sulpice.
"Inside a House of the Lord," the Teacher exclaimed. "How
they mock us!"
"As they have for centuries."
The Teacher fell silent, as if letting the triumph of this moment settle
over him. Finally, he spoke. "You have done a great service to God. We
have waited centuries for this. You must retrieve the stone for me.
Immediately. Tonight. You understand the stakes."
Silas knew the stakes were incalculable, and yet what the Teacher was now
commanding seemed impossible. "But the cathedral, it is a fortress.
Especially at night. How will I enter?"
With the confident tone of man of enormous influence, the Teacher explained
what was to be done.
* * *
When Silas hung up the phone, his skin tingled with anticipation.
One hour, he told himself, grateful that the Teacher had given him
time to carry out the necessary penance before entering a house of God.
I must purge my soul of today's sins. The sins committed today had been
Holy in purpose. Acts of war against the enemies of God had been committed
for centuries. Forgiveness was assured.
Even so, Silas knew, absolution required sacrifice.
Pulling his shades, he stripped naked and knelt in the center of his room.
Looking down, he examined the spiked cilice belt clamped around his
thigh. All true followers of The Way wore this device--a leather strap,
studded with sharp metal barbs that cut into the flesh as a perpetual
reminder of Christ's suffering. The pain caused by the device also helped
counteract the desires of the flesh.
Although Silas already had worn his cilice today longer than the
requisite two hours, he knew today was no ordinary day. Grasping the
buckle, he cinched it one notch tighter, wincing as the barbs dug deeper
into his flesh. Exhaling slowly, he savored the cleansing ritual of his
Pain is good, Silas whispered, repeating the sacred mantra of Father
Josemaria Escriva--the Teacher of all Teachers. Although Escriva had died
in 1975, his wisdom lived on, his words still whispered by thousands of
faithful servants around the globe as they knelt on the floor and performed
the sacred practice known as "corporal mortification."
Silas turned his attention now to a heavy knotted rope coiled neatly on the
floor beside him. The Discipline. The knots were caked with dried
blood. Eager for the purifying effects of his own agony, Silas said a quick
prayer. Then, gripping one end of the rope, he closed his eyes and swung it
hard over his shoulder, feeling the knots slap against his back. He whipped
it over his shoulder again, slashing at his flesh. Again and again, he
Castigo corpus meum.
Finally, he felt the blood begin to flow.
While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an
urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been
murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling
cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to
discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci --
clues visible for all to see -- yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.
Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and
learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion -- an actual
secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor
Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others.
In a breathless race through Paris, London, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu
match wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate their every
move. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in
time, the Priory's ancient secret -- and an explosive historical truth --
will be lost forever.
THE DA VINCI CODE heralds the arrival of a new breed of
lightning-paced, intelligent thriller…utterly unpredictable right up to
its stunning conclusion.