Confession time: back in 2004, I was struck down with gastro for several days and in that time I read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code from cover to cover.

The writing was awful and the history was worse, but it sure was a page turner. Credit where it’s due. Dan Brown knows how to pace!

I haven’t read  any other Dan Brown ‘novels,’ but I watched The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons movies, and that’s gotta count for something, right? I really enjoyed Angels and Demons, and I can believe it when friends tell me it’s a much better book than Da Vinci Code.

Well, now the sequel to Angels and Demons is out! The first chapter of the sequel is out, anyway. Fr Richard Umbers, an Opus Dei priest in Sydney, has somehow got a copy. (Publicity due to The Da Vinci Code was a boon to Opus Dei, so I guess Dan Brown is on close terms with the Work these days. Maybe he’s a co-opted vocations director or something?)

The year is 2009, the month – an unseasonably warm November. Loosening his Hermes patterned silk tie, the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon was reminded of the Roman Warm Period that ran from 250 BC to 400 AD. A time of light initiated by Roman mastery of Italy that ended with the molluscan death of the gorgeous mathematician Hypatia at the hands of an enraged Christian mob in Alexandria.

Ah, Alexandria. City of the great library which bore the name of the Hellenine warrior: Alexander. The Macedonian Greek who had culturally conquered both Persians and Romans.

And then, the Church, and the plunge into dark and cold. Monks and superstition. The imprisonment of Galileo. What democratic government today could so silence a man they would keep him under virtual house arrest?

‘Thanks be to the gods for the rebirth of science and light through Newton’ he sighed in his trademark chocolate sounding voice.

The sartorial professor Robert Langdon was jolted awake from his reverie by a hit to the head with the latest Apple gadget – an iPhone 3GS.

You can read the rest at the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Part of the fun is spotting all the historical errors.

It may be several years since I read Dan Brown but from what I remember, the style is spot on. If, as I suspect, it was actually Fr Richard who wrote this, he might find a supplementary career writing potboilers!