Beginning with the murder of a prominent museum official in Paris, the story is similar to the classic murder mystery. Yet, the author, Dan Brown expands upon this genre with certain special devices. Like other well-written mysteries, The Da Vinci Code presents a satisfying weave of several plot lines. Starting at the Louvre, the novel's action moves rapidly through Parisian streets and to London, tying together elements as seemingly different as the "Mona Lisa" and the Knights Templar. Robert Langdon, a Harvard University professor becomes involved in a plot that incorporates murder, mystery, conspiracy and religion. He is scheduled to meet with Jacques Saunière, curator of the Louvre. The curator's body is discovered, posed like da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" and marked with his own blood. Langdon's appointment with the deceased is known to the police, who immediately believe he perpetrated the crime. Sophie Neveu, Saunière's granddaughter and cryptographer with the French government, teams up with Langdon to search for her grandfather's killer. The novel focuses on this search. Unknown to Langdon and Neveu, Saunière's murder is part of a scheme that is of enormous religious significance. Lead by lead, the depth of the scheme is revealed. The author has included interesting characters essential to the revelation. Silas, an albino monk and follower of the mysterious group, Opus Dei, murders in the belief that these crimes will help the Catholic Church. Like Javier in Les Miserables, Police Captain Bezu Fache is determined to capture his target.
The arrest of the murderer of such a prominent individual would help Fache's career. Bishop Aringarosa, head of Opus Dei and Silas' mentor is willing to forgo morality in pursuit of his goal. "The Teacher" proves to be perpetrator of the scheme, a man aware of the Vatican's plans to end support for Opus Dei. He remains mysterious throughout most of the novel, his identity presented near the end as Langdon's friend, Sir Leigh Teabing. Professor Langdon and Neveu finally learn the motive for the murder and much more. Controversy has touched this book, most likely adding to the number of its readers. Dan Brown presents the concept that the Holy Grail was Mary Magdalene, Jesus' wife and mother of his child. A group named the Priory of Sion, whose members included Da Vinci, guarded knowledge of Magdalene's identity. Brown's character, Langdon has the opportunity to reveal the knowledge of the Priory to the world, yet retains the secret. There is no real explanation as to why Langdon makes this decision. Another of Professor Langdon's decisions is clear; he and Sophie will continue to see each other.