"Stephen Brown and Dan Brown are similar in several significant respects," declares the autobiographical blurb in this hoot of a book. "They even share the same DNA (debatable narrative ability)."
Six years since the publication of The Da Vinci Code, the spoofs it has spawned are still flowing thick and fast – and here is such a one, self-described as "a parody of a thriller that doesn't exist".
The novel begins with the mousy, middle-aged, mild-mannered Francine Lafarge, who has been running Da Vinci Code Tours for four years, shepherding fanatics through the novel's settings, even in the depths of winter. But disaster strikes and Dan Brown fans are brutally murdered the world over, with a cover of a Dan Brown novel stuck in their chests.
If anything, the novel exposes less about what makes for talented "narrative ability" and more about Stephen Brown's talent for bunching alliterated words together, cramming in fiction masquerading as fact, and shedding satirical insight on the world of marketing, in which he has worked for many years. It also exposes not only how a logo, but how good judgment itself, might be lost in the heat of fanaticism.