This was a summer read and exactly what I expected it to be--a quick romp and enjoyable page turner. But what I did find to be of interest was following up on Brown's research in my English 305 class. The book originally piqued my interest because of the scholarly interest shown for its multiple premises. University courses were being offered, to my surprise, centered around the novel and even symposia were held.
Brown has never expressed any pretensions of being one of the great American novelists, but he certainly was brilliant this time in his choice of topics. As Jeremy Paugh wrote, this is an "intriguing exploration of some of Western culture's greatest mysteries--from the nature of the Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail." While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, I applaud him for the fact that he took a formulaic murder mystery and wove in multiple ideas that should make any thoughtful reader a little curious about history and instill a desire in them to follow up on the wealth of source material.
By the way, after reading some of the reviews on this website, I have to comment that too often we readers pretend to be far more erudite and sophisticated than we really are. All of us have at times been guilty of thinking we have "read" great works which we might have cursorily glanced through in college or worse, heard of at some point in our education. The, sagcious "oh yes" nod when some writer is mentioned in a conversation, whom you really have not ever spent time with as a bedfellow. Don't be a book snob, for goodness sake. What is literature if you only wade through it as the Finns say, "with long teeth" in order to say that you have read one of the "classics." Novels after all, are meant, as Francis Bacon said, "to be chewed, digested," and throughly enjoyed. :) Hooray for the Dan Browns of the world who keep us happily entertained.