Authors with style similar to Dan Brown?
April 6, 2009 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Looking for authors who write in a style similar to Dan Brown. Or individual books that are thrillers written in the same style.

I've read Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and have almost finished Deception Point.

I'm looking for suggestions of authors that write in a very similar style. Also looking for authors that include historical / scientific references weaved into the novel, again in a similar way that Dan Brown does. Individual titles are also appreciated if the author does not always write thrillers.
posted by mtphoto to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Steve Berry struck me as very similar to Dan Brown (unsurprising, as IIRC he listed Dan Brown in his acknowledgements at the start of The Romanov Prophecy).
posted by Xany at 12:03 AM on April 6, 2009

This is not exactly what you say you're looking for, but Dan Brown cribbed pretty much all of his ideas for The Da Vinci Code from a "non-fiction" book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail, published in 1982. I read it about 15-20 years ago; it's a breathless, highly detailed conspiracy theory, and I enjoyed its ingenuity and historical detail without taking it too seriously.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:09 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Umberto Eco is a medievalist scholar who works in details of medieval culture, philosophy, and cosmology into his novels. I have heard Foucalt's Pendulum cited as "a thinking reader's DaVinci Code".
posted by idiopath at 12:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Arturo Pérez-Reverte! He's an amazing and engaging writer who incorporates a lot of historical detail into his complex plots. I recommend The Club Dumas, The Flanders Panel, The Seville Communion, and the Fencing Master (in that order).

Please ignore that mediocre Ninth Gate film. It was based on a subplot from The Club Dumas and though somewhat entertaining, it failed the novel miserably.
posted by rhinny at 1:12 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

If by style you meanthe way sentences are written, nothing could be farther removed from Dan Brown than Umberto Eco, who is baroque, pedantic and - sorry, fans - long winded at times. Especially "Foucaults Pendulum" is about a third too long.

The way Brown keeps his plot moving from A to Z with multiple cliffhangers is probably closer to how the early Grisham wrote his early courtroom thrillers, or how Robert Ludlum construed his books. If you don't like Nazi history, though, Ludlum is probably not for you.
posted by NekulturnY at 1:13 AM on April 6, 2009

Jeffrey Archer is about the closest I can think of.
posted by ceri richard at 1:26 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:01 AM on April 6, 2009

Foucalt's Pendulum is nothing like DaVinci Code. It's much more pretentious, and made my head hurt, not an enjoyable read.

Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum for thriller action type non-literature...
posted by defcom1 at 2:23 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, but The Name of the Rose, though...
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:41 AM on April 6, 2009

And to say something constructive, maybe Tom Clancy? His zillions of books range from sort of spy novels to vast what-if-the-USA-fought-a-war-against-the-USSR-in-the-80's epics. It seems Amazon reviewers tend to rate The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Without Remorse very highly. I read Rainbow Six a while back and thought it was vaguely Dan Brownish, though not Tom Clancy at his best.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:51 AM on April 6, 2009

Dan Brown in terms of style uses very methodic plots with predictable arcs, archetypal characters, and too strategically placed cliffhangers. I read Angels and Demons first, and reading The DaVinci Code and Deception Point after that felt like one very long déjà vu. I don't want to disparage your reading choices, mtphoto, since I evidently enjoyed the first one enough to continue seeking out his other books, but I'd probably classify his style of writing as cheap action thriller. So to that end, I'd second the recommendation for John Grisham, and add in a recommendation for Dean Koontz.
posted by Phire at 3:02 AM on April 6, 2009

'nother vote for Arturo Pérez-Reverte! (although I also liked the Ninth Gate, but acknowledge they were two different entities).

try Tom Robbins' first novel Another Roadside Attraction. It's like if Dan Brown had written Davinci Code over the course of a weekend while huffing laughing gas. Plus, it's the book that killed Elvis. You gotta love it.
posted by mannequito at 3:21 AM on April 6, 2009

Stieg Larssons millennium-trilogy gets compared to The Da Vinci Code a lot.
posted by uandt at 4:33 AM on April 6, 2009

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:59 AM on April 6, 2009

As a teen I tore through the Clive Cussler books. They are full of fast paced adventure, psuedo science and some of them imagine a redefined historic world. One I recall even postulated how President Lincoln would have gotten to the Sahara desert during his lifetime (I believe that book was called Sahara and the preceding wasn't a spoiler...that's basically the text from the jacket cover).
posted by mmascolino at 6:06 AM on April 6, 2009

Sam Bourne (actually the journalist Jonathan Freedland) writes modern-day conspiracy-thrillers with religious overtones. His style is less breathless and his chapters are longer than Dan Brown's, but they're good page-turners with interesting characters and well-researched plots.
posted by Hogshead at 6:34 AM on April 6, 2009

A little late, but Katherine Neville's The Eight is pretty awesome and along the same lines: conspiracies, Freemasons, alchemy, puzzles. I loved it!
posted by miratime at 6:47 AM on April 6, 2009

The master of breathless action is Robert Ludlum.
posted by RussHy at 6:50 AM on April 6, 2009

No suggestions on other authors, but if you value your time do NOT pick up Dan Brown's Digital Fortress -- it's not even close to the caliber of his other three and you will be sorely disappointed if you read it expecting more of the same excitement you got from his later books.
posted by phatkitten at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2009

Forgot to mention: Barry Eisler's "John Rain" series is actually quite good in the action and techno-spy thriller genre. Not so much history though.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:33 AM on April 6, 2009

The Last Templar was a lot like the De Vinci Code
posted by Black_Umbrella at 8:17 AM on April 6, 2009

Katherine Neville's The Eight is pretty awesome

Agreed. Even if you don't like chesss, it's a good book and many of the main characters are strong emale leads if that sort of thing matters to you. Her sequel The Fire is decent as well. Greg Iles writes some good religious-type thrillers, not quite the world-adventire types and some of his books are horrible. I'd suggest The Footprints of God. I also liked Arturo Pérez-Reverte's book The Seville Communion, mentioned upthread.
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on April 6, 2009

Second 'The Rule Of Four', and also 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova. It's a novel surrounding the historical Dracula - pretty good for an author's first outing.
posted by DandyRandy at 8:55 AM on April 6, 2009

Foucalt's Pendulum is nothing like DaVinci Code. It's much more pretentious, and made my head hurt, not an enjoyable read.

Eco is not "in the style of" The Da Vinci Code. Foucault's Pendulum is, in part, making fun of authors who write books like The Da Vinci Code and the people who not only enjoy reading them, but who actually believe the theories and "facts" set forth in them.

I cannot say more about it without spoiling the plot, but I can say this: Umberto Eco is nothing like Dan Brown, and Foucault's Pendulum is "a thinking person's The Da Vinci Code'" only in the sense that one of its primary themes is (excellent) mockery of literature like The Da Vinci Code. It is a brilliant book and very enjoyable, but yes, it will make your head hurt for the first couple of chapters at least. When The Da Vinci Code came out and Dan Brown got sued by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail for plagiarism, I kept thinking that Brown had not plagiarized that book, but had instead taken the central plot point of Foucault's Pendulum and decided to actually write a book like the one that the characters in Foucault's Pendulum are writing (and that Holy Blood, Holy Grail had done the same thing).
posted by The World Famous at 9:26 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, Katherine Neville writes books like Dan Brown except she's not a hack. When I read The Da Vinci Code it was like reading Neville's The Magic Circle except it was written badly. The Eight is probably her best book, but check out her others.
posted by _Skull_ at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2009

I thought James Rollins Map of Bones was like the Da Vinci Code, but I enjoyed it more and thought it was more fun to read.
posted by rw at 1:59 PM on April 6, 2009

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