Make no mistake: Alan Yuhas is not a Dan Brown fan (the headline of his Guardian column begins, "Dan Brown still can't write"), but he does think the Da Vinci Code author deserves some credit for at least trying to get his readers interested in high-minded ideas. Sure, Brown's modus operandi is to put "facts, wild speculation, and fiction into a blender and press ... 'chunky'" and his prose is "parody-worthy," but if he can put Dante in readers' faces (new book Inferno makes use of Dante's 14th-century poem of the same name), "then the ends justify his syntactically awkward means," Yuhas writes.
If he took a cue from writers like Michael Crichton, Agatha Christie, or John Grisham and inserted some actual substance into his books, he could still "inspire intellectual curiosity" without being quite so mocked by critics. Right now, his books get too messy with fact and fiction; if he used "solid science or history" as his foundation, his work would be the better for it. In fact, "he could accomplish something worthwhile: show his huge audience that literature is thrilling, too." Click for Yuhas' full column.