The Da Vinci Code is garbage, utter tripe, a book so poorly written that it can be read as an unintentional parody of pop thriller writing. I read it several years ago, and I have yet to receive a reply regarding the bill I subsequently sent to Dan Brown, charging him a (fairly reasonable) dollar value for my wasted reading time and demanding payment in full. A blurb on the cover of my copy quotes Nelson De Mille's hysterically effusive description of the novel: "This is pure genius." To which I can only reply: If this is pure genius, I'd hate to smell crap. I have retitled the book Thriller Written with a Mixmaster, because it reads as though Dan Brown tossed an average thriller, a tourist's guidebook and a volume of dotty art history into a Mixmaster and pressed 'Puree.' This is not to say, surprisingly, that the book is entirely without merit. (Nothing that riles the religious right can be entirely without merit.) But its few noticeable merits--superfast pacing, clever puzzles--shrink to subatomic size in proportion to its most glaring demerit: the absence of any perceptible authorial talent. To call The Da Vinci Code 'junk food for the brain' is an insult to junk food. This is a cheap, disposable thriller so poorly written that it doesn't even qualify as a guilty pleasure. If I rated books with stars, I would give it a black hole.