Agreed. Dude was definitely writing for an audience with, at most, 6th grade reading comprehension.
Maybe THAT's why the book is so inexplicably popular--the average Joe could actually get it.
I read a couple of other books in the genre, but they couldn't fascinate me as he did. Maybe I'm just an average Joe, but care to give some examples of writers who aren't amatures?
Well, mystery/suspense isn't a genre I tend to follow a lot, so I really can't speak to that, but if you want an example of damned fine contemporary literature, try the Kushiel's Dart
trilogy by Jacqueline Carey. Don't let the cover art and description fool you--it may look like mere erotica on the surface, but it's an extremely well-written trilogy.
Most notable is the author's use of language--very elegant and sophisticated, definitely NOT something written for a reader with a 6th-grade vocabulary. The narrative prose reads almost like poetry at times. Just read the excerpt
(should be the first 6 or so pages of the book) for an idea of how beautifully she chooses her words.
It's hard to pigeon-hole this trilogy into a genre--if you look in the bookstore, you'll find it in Fantasy, but it's really much more. It's not so much fantasy as an alternative version of European history, starting with the question of what would happen if in the first few centuries after Christ and the fall of the Roman empire, Christianity had not become the predominant religion in Europe, and most of what was once called Gaul--France and Germany, mainly--were settled by a race of people descended from angels.
The book has elements of romance and erotica, yes, but primarily, it's a mystery, dealing with the political intrigue and machinations of the heroine's homeland. She may be a courtesan and a divinely-inspired masochist, but her proclivities do not carry the plot, they merely provide a goad here and there and serve as the means by which she finds herself becoming involved in the political intrigue.
Aside from the language, the other really strong point in this trilogy is the plotting. It's tight and sharp, all the way through. Though the characters may occasionally have to veer off-course, the plot itself runs through the books with laser-beam focus and precision. This is one of the reasons why I haven't been as pleased with the second trilogy set in the Kushiel world (third book is due out this summer.) That trilogy is more of a character exploration and doesn't have the same sort of tightly-plotted tension as the first trilogy did.
At any rate, if you're looking for examples of writing that are considerably less hackney-ed than Dan Brown, that's where I would recommend you start.
"Is it wrong for me to long for the simpler days of yesteryear when performers weren't so confusing? Jagger, Bowie...you KNEW they were women. But nowadays, this internationally ranked cheerleading coach just can't figure it out. Neil Patrick Harris? You confuse me. I HEAR you're gay, but there you are on my TV playing a normal, womanizing, cardigan-wearing straight. That's confusing. And then I heard a rumor you're not actually a doctor. So much sneaky gay deception!" --Sue's Corner