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The Da Vinci Code is a mystery/detective novel by American author Dan Brown, published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction. It is a worldwide bestseller with more than 60.5 million copies in print (as of May 2006) and has been translated into 44 languages. Combining the detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction genres, the book is part two of a trilogy that started with Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, which introduced the character Robert Langdon. In November 2004, Random House published a "Special Illustrated Edition", with 160 illustrations interspersed with the text.
The plot of the novel involves a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the "true" story of Jesus. The Vatican knows it is living a lie but does so to keep itself in power. The novel has helped generate popular interest in speculation concerning the Holy Grail legend and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity. Fans have lauded the book as creative (despite the fact that none of Brown's theories are new), action-packed and thought-provoking. Critics have attacked it as poorly written, inaccurate and creating confusion between speculation and fact. From a religious point of view, some critics consider it sacrilegious, and decry the many negative implications about the Catholic Church and Opus Dei.