IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 26 Tuesday, 22 September 2009 London Lite K icking Dan Brown has become an international sport since the American author took up residence in the bestseller lists. His detractors include literary critics, who cant forgive the former teachers maladroit prose and scant character development, and the catholic church, which wasnt too pleased that he based a book around the notion that christ had fathered a child. Theres plenty in his fifth novel to inspire the hecklers, as Browns blank- canvas hero, the long-winded academic Robert Langdon, runs around a Washington Dc brimming with masonic secrets, pursued by a giant hell-bent on becom- ing a god. But Brown seems to be stirring something unu- sual into what many assume is his standard potboiler brew: a sense of responsibility. The plot is as convoluted as before. Langdon is summoned to Washington to give a lecture, but instead of an attentive audi- ence he discovers a severed hand, the first in a series of clues that send him criss-crossingthe US capital as he tries to save an old friend. As with The Da Vinci code and Angels And Demons, the mystery finds its answers in the fabric of the citys tour- ist sites, ensuring Browns fiction retains the intersection with the real world that fuels his readers fascination. The characters are still prone to lengthy, discursive flashbacks, italics and ellipses are still irritat- ingly deployed to empha- sise drama where it isnt necessary, and Brown still cant resist having people come out with clunky clichs such as: There are forces at work tonight that you do not yet comprehend. But style and technique are ultimately at the service of the story -- and it is finding out what happens next, not admiring the craft of the writer in get- ting there, that has drawn so many millions to his books. The Lost Symbol is Browns first novel since becoming a literary superstar. Rather than pandering to his mass market, he continues to build his plots out of history, art and religion; this is a book that encourages curiosity about science and culture, where readers who recognise, say, the Renaissance artist Albrecht Durers stylised signature will find themselves a page or two ahead. Fittingly, a thriller about ideas ends with the most supercharged concept of them all: that widespread inter-faith understanding, scientific rationalism and mutual respect might help lead to a new age of enlightenment. REVIEWSBOOKS Whatsnottolikeaboutthe dynamicduoofteatimetelly? Looking for signs: Tom Hanks, as Langdon, with Audrey Tautou in the film of The Da Vinci Code MUSIC Memoirs Of A Geezer ByJahWobble(SerpentsTail,12.99) HHHHI HAD YOU stood on Tower Hill Underground platform during the mid-Eighties, you might have heard these words over the PA: i used to be somebody, i repeat, i used to be somebody. That somebody was John Joseph Wardle, bassist with Public image Ltd, the band forged from the ashes of the Sex Pistols. Born into working class Stepney, Wardle became Jah Wobble thanks to an intoxicated Sid Vicious; his love of reggae and dub made the moniker stick. Perhaps because he quit drinking in 1986, Wobbles memoirs are more lucid than youd expect from a boy who ran about Seventies London on a diet of speed and Jack Daniels, hanging with Johnny Rotten and guitarist keith Levene. Wobble traverses the ups and downs of PiL, his solo forays into jazz, reggae, world music and spirituality and his stint as a Tube driver (see above) when the cash ran out. John Lydon recently announced the reformation of PiL without Wobble. Juggling his own record label, successful musical collaborations, four kids, a post as an independent book reviewer and now a diverting tome of his own, Wobble is far too busy to live in the past. MARTHA DE LACEY Books can come into your life at a time when youre going through a rough patch, with the power to rescue you, writes Cecilia Ahern in the blurb of her latest story. The Book of Tomorrow is unlikely to replace resuscitation -- it isnt even that uplifting -- but thousands of readers will buy it regardless. Tamara is a spoilt teenager whose father gets into debt and then tops himself. so Tamara and her mum are shipped off to stay with relatives in the countryside where they try to rebuild their lives, but its Tamaras discovery of a magical book that becomes the key to her happiness. Aherns obnoxious teenager is perfectly believable, but impossible to like. And while theres more substance here than in some chick-lit, the mystical element only distances readers from the implausible story, rather than drawing them into Aherns world where her naff mantra is making the everyday magical. LAUREN PAXMAN FEMiniST writer katie Roiphe tells us about the intimate lives of English writers between the wars. Theres Hg Wells, driven by a sort of narcissistic passion, who bobs between his wife and his mistresses. Theres also katherine Mansfield and her emotionally passive husband, John Middleton Murry; one night she snogs Mark gertler and he gets a pep-talk in the garden from his mate DH Lawrence. its like reading Heat magazine but in a rather good way. WILLIAM LEITH Uncommon Arrangements ByKatieRoiphe (Virago,9.99) Newpaperbacks ShOwbIz Ooh! what A Lovely Pair ByAntMcPartlinandDeclanDonnelly (MichaelJoseph,20) HHHHI YoUD think a book by a posh chap about his family house might not be appealing. But this is Adam Nicolson, who wrote Men of Honour, one of the best books written about Admiral Nelson. He adores English history, and here he seeks it out in every corner of sissinghurst, the house in question, and the fields and streams that surround it. He gets pretty intimate, too, about the lives and deaths of his father, Nigel, and his grandparents, Harold and Vita. WL Sissinghurst ByAdamNicolson (HarperPress,9.99) WHAT a feat of writing! Ron Suskind gives us a year in the life of the war on terror. it begins in the summer of 2006 and its a sweeping performance. Suskind takes you into the White House. He gets into the head of george Bush. He explains the tensions between Blair and Bush as the plot to blow up transatlantic planes is foiled. He follows the lives of a Pakistani guy in Washington, an Afghan boy in Denver and a guantanamo lawyer. Very well executed. WL The way Of The world ByRonSuskind (PocketBooks,8.99) ThE bIG READ The Lost Symbol ByDanBrown(BantamPress,18.99) HHHHI ANGUS bATEY ChICK-LIT The book Of Tomorrow ByCeciliaAhern(HarperCollins,14.99) HHIII WHEN you see words in italics, thats me, Ant. And when you see them in bold, thats me, Dec. To be honest, though, I still cant tell Ant and Dec apart. The Geordie duo have built their success on their sameness. Its something they play up to -- they even live a couple of doors down from each other in Chiswick. Unsurprisingly, theres nothing here that could scare the horses. They claim they were riding the wave of lad culture in the Nineties, but the most debauched anecdote is about Dec throwing up in Chris Evanss toilet. Its hardly Led Zeppelins Hammer of The Gods. The tone can generously be described as dad humour. When they were recording their debut album as PJ & Duncan, Dec reflects: Wed be careful to drink plenty of warm honey and lemon. sorry, did I say honey and lemon? I meant stella Artois. still, their affectionate mickey- taking is endearing. It may be light entertainment, but from teatime tellys human salt and pepper set, whats not to like? AMBER COWAN Twos company: Ant and Dec -- and their book Browncracks thecodeagain index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html