My dad asked me the other day if I thought Dan Brown would win the Nobel prize for literature. My drink almost came out of my nose.
Somebody described Tom Clancy's books as technology porn, and in the same way Dan Brown is history porn. Like Clancy, he can only really do one thing, and like Clancy, he does it progressively worse. I don't think it's about familiarity breeding contempt either. I read Da Vinci Code first, and loved it, then Digital Fortress, which was utterly ridiculous to anyone with any sort of IT background (and the suspense was lacking as well). Angels and Demons was third, and it was definitely more bearable, although the novelty had worn off. I won't even bother with Deception Point: I've read the cover, and I don't expect it to be good.
The hype is entirely dependent on the claim that Brown is talking about real events, but if you think about it, that is irrelevant. I'm sure secret societies do exist, and I'm also sure they are much more boring than people who are not part of one would like to believe. And no, I'm not a member of any secret society, although I think I was once offered (in roundabout terms) to join the Freemasons. At the time, I didn't see the point, and I still don't, although today I would accept simply to see what the fuss is about. In any case, neither the Priory of Zion nor the Illuminati have the slightest bearing on my existence, and thus for all intents and purposes they do not exist. I'd much rather be pissed off at George Bush.
Conspiracy theories and secret societies are some of the topics that people in general never get bored of. Just like suspense and murder. Go into a bookshop today - it's ridiculous; the volumes which are given pride of place are desperately formulaic crime novels. I suppose one could trace a correlation whereby the degree to which a book is interesting is inversely proportional to the muscle put into its promotion. (However, it would have to drop off shortly before reaching the Guardian literary prize winners.)