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Authors on location – Dan Brown

3rd October 2017


Authors on location - Dan Brown


For some writers location is as integral to their story-telling as plot or character. TripFiction takes a look at some of these authors, for whom a sense of place has helped to define their literary output.

Photo: DanBrown.com

Born in 1964 and raised in Exeter, New Hampshire, Dan Brown’s childhood interest in secrets and puzzles stemmed from the fields of mathematics, music and languages in which his parents worked. But before he became one of the best-selling authors in history Brown dabbled in music and songwriting, and taught English. His writing career was sparked by reading Sidney Sheldon’s The Doomsday Conspiracy, whilst on holiday in Tahiti in 1993. He was inspired to become a writer of thrillers. He has succeeded in that ambition!

Most of Dan Brown’s novels are 24-hour treasure hunts, usually featuring cryptology, codes, symbols and conspiracy theories. He is best known for The Da Vinci Code, one of five to date featuring Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbology expert, as his lead character.

Many of his novels have a strong sense of place, and he has even been credited with a spike in tourism to Paris and Rome!

Digital Fortress – set in Seville & Washington DC

Brown’s first novel, published in 1998, portrays the world’s most powerful intelligence organisation – the National Security Agency – as under threat from an ingeniously complex code that it can’t break.

Enter Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician who battles to save the NSA, but is betrayed on all sides and whose life comes under threat.

Secrecy and lies, betrayal and intrigue, Fletcher fights for her country and for the man she loves. Set partly in exotic Seville and in the corridors of power in Washington DC, Brown’s debut novel explores themes of government surveillance of electronically stored information, the personal right to privacy and the ethical implications of using technology in ambiguous circumstances. Arguably even more relevant now than when first published.

Angels & Demons – set in Rome

Published in 2000, this was the first of Brown’s novel to introduce Robert Langdon.

Based firmly in Rome, the novel starts with Langdon finding shocking proof that the Illumaniti secret society, dedicated since the time of Galileo to promoting the interests of science and condemning the blind faith of Catholicism, is still thriving an threatening.

Italian physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, his eyes plucked out and with the society’s ancient symbol branded upon his chest. His final discovery, anti-matter, the most powerful and dangerous energy source known to man, has disappeared….only to be hidden somewhere beneath the Vatican City on the eve of the election of a new Pope.

Langdon and Vittoria, Vetra’s daughter and colleague, embark on a frantic hunt through the streets, churches and catacombs of the Eternal City, following a 400-year-old trail to the lair of the Illuminati, to prevent the incineration of civilisation.

The Da Vinci Code – set in England, Paris & Scotland

The Big One! Brown’s second novel featuring symbologist Robert Langdon was published in 2003, and has become one of the most popular books of all time, earning an estimated $250m for the author from that book alone.

A murder in the silent after-hours halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his granddaughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon can untangle.

The duo become both suspects and detectives searching not only for Neveu’s grandfather’s murderer, but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Stayng just ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England and history itself.

The 2006 movie adaptation, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks as Langdon and a stellar cast of other characters, grossed more than $750m worldwide and brought the book to the attention of even more people.

The Lost Symbol – set in Washington DC

The author and Robert Langdon return to the nation’s capital for this 2009 novel.

Langdon believes he has been invited to The Capitol building to give a lecture. He is wrong. Within minutes of his arrival, a shocking object is discovered. It is a gruesome invitation into an ancient world of hidden wisdom.

When Langdon’s mentor, Peter Solomon – prominent mason and philanthropist – is kidnapped, Langdon realises that his only hope of saving his friend’s life is to accept this mysterious summons.

It takes him on a breathless chase through Washington’s dark history. All that was familiar is changed into a shadowy, mythical world in which Masonic secrets and never-before-seen revelations seem to be leading him to a single impossible and inconceivable truth…

Inferno – set in Florence

“Seek and ye shall find.”

With these words echoing in his head, symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.

A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers. With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat.

And now (being published on October 3rd, 2017):

Origin – set in Spain

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever”. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. This evening is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence. But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his own life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret. In order to evade a tormented enemy who is one step ahead of them at every turn, Langdon and Vidal must navigate labyrinthine passageways of hidden history and ancient religion. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried – until now.

You can follow Dan via his official Twitter page and on Facebook

Other authors on location:

Graham Greene

Robert Harris

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