Parodist drops letter from title of bestseller; moderate hilarity ensues.
While Brine, better known as sci-fi author and London University professor Adam Roberts, doesn’t shy away from religious themes in The Da Vinci Cod—he spends most of his comedic energies elsewhere, cracking wise about Dan Brown’s characters, his cliffhanger chapter endings and the silliness of conspiracy theories in general. In his hands, intrepid religious scholar Robert Langdon becomes Robert Donglan, a witless “anagrammatologist” who needs even the easiest word puzzles explained to him; doing much of the explaining is Sophie Nudivue, a mysterious academic investigating the murder of London museum curator Jacques Sauna-Lurker, found dead in a gallery with a cod shoved down his throat. From that setup, Brine eases into some absurd storytelling, spinning a ridiculous tale involving Leonardo Da Vinci’s sister, an alternate version of the Mona Lisa and the shady organization Conspiratus Opi Dei, which places fish at the center of all existence. There are plenty of gags about hidden messages—some museum curators apparently have the presence of mind to cough out dying words in morse code—but Brine’s funniest bits are his extended stretches of wordplay-laden dialogue that have little to do with Brown’s book. A back-and-forth during the climax about the importance of picking your last words carefully has all the absurdity and irony of a Monty Python sketch, and Brine has a talent for turns of phrase like “cranky crack-pot conspiracy kerfuffle.”
Too carefully irreverent and breezy to generate real belly laughs, but anyone familiar with the original mega-seller’s tangled plots will get it.