THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown [Review]

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Since The Da Vinci Code exploded onto bestseller lists in 2003, fans of Dan Brown have been anxiously waiting for his next novel. They can finally relax because The Lost Symbol is here and it doesn’t disappoint. Like Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol has college professor Robert Langdon frantically racing against time to piece together clues that will unlock a legendary mystery. As usual, when Langdon is involved, there is also going to be symbology, puzzles, a bizarre bad guy, a secret society, and an alluring female partner.

This time around, the action takes place in Washington, DC and involves Langdon’s good friend Peter Solomon, who happens to be the leader of the Freemasons. Summoned to the US Capitol Building by an early morning phone call, via a private jet no less, Langdon makes a grotesque discovery. Solomon’s severed hand is in the middle of the Rotunda, pointing toward the dome and has been tattooed with symbols. Langdon receives a phone call that informs him that he has until midnight to unlock the ancient secrets of the Freemasons if he wants to save what’s left of his friend. Thus begins Langdon’s race through Washington, looking for clues and evading those who want to stop him. While not quite as glamorous as the European locales of his previous books, American readers will probably find the Washington, DC setting more familiar.

The guy orchestrating all this is Mal’akh, a bizarre villain that has more than passing similarities with Silas, the monk in The Da Vinci Code. Rather than an albino monk in a loincloth, Mal’akh is a muscled bound, tatted up, psycho in a loincloth. Apparently the loincloth is the outfit of choice for the delusional crackpot with violent tendencies. Mal’akh managed to infiltrate the Freemasons, which is how he had access to Peter Solomon. A fully clothed Mal’akh, posing as a doctor, was also able to gain the trust of Katherine Solomon, Peter’s sister. Katherine is a researcher in the field of noetic science, which studies the possibility that our thoughts can affect the physical world. It’s Katherine who teams up with Langdon to try to find the Masonic secrets and save her brother.

Brown had his work cut out for him with The Lost Symbol because it’s nearly impossible to top The Da Vinci Code and its shocking revelations. Suggesting that Mary Magdalene was actually the Holy Grail and that she and Jesus were married and had a baby? That’s one way to piss off the Catholic Church and get people talking. Comparatively, and despite Langdon’s breathless revelations, the Masons seem rather tame. They just aren’t the sexiest of secret societies. Still, it’s an interesting subject, and Brown displays his talent for presenting esoteric facts about familiar topics (he can tell you, for instance, the origin of the phrase “the third degree” or that our nation’s capital was modeled after Rome). Particularly interesting is the discussion of our founding fathers and how many of them were not Christians but deists who wanted to create a country free from the influences of religion. It seems like a relevant topic considering today’s political climate.

Many have tried to imitate his style, but Dan Brown is the best at what he does. The Lost Symbol is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that might just make you think about America’s forefathers in a new way. Fans of Dan Brown should be pleased to once again see Robert Langdon and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed by the entertaining story.

Buy The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown on Amazon.

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