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Home Reviews Book Reviews ‘The Lost Symbol’: Rollicking roller coaster reading

‘The Lost Symbol’: Rollicking roller coaster reading

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Dan Brown’s new book, “The Lost Symbol” sold one million copies the first day it hit bookshelves and on-line booksellers for a good reason. It’s a fabulous roller coaster ride written by one of the most entertaining authors to have ever put a pen to paper.

In addition to a smooth writing style, Brown’s meticulous research and unfailing attention to detail are what sets him apart from most of his contemporaries.

You’d have to be living under a rock for the past several years not to be familiar with Robert Langdon, Brown’s mega-smart Harvard symbologist, and the hero of “The DaVinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.”

Langdon’s best friend and mentor Peter Solomon, the wealthy scion and head of the Smithsonian Institute, urgently needs him to speak at a gala held every year to honor the institute’s most generous donors.

“The problem is this,” Solomon’s able assistant pleads with Langdon. “Our speaker has fallen ill and has just informed us she will be unable to give the address. ... This means we are desperate for a replacement speaker and Mr. Solomon is hoping you would consider filling in.”

Solomon’s office sends a private plane and arranges for a limo to deliver Langdon to the National Statuary Hall, “the best room in all of D.C.,” for the speech.

Imagine Langdon’s surprise when he arrives at his destination and discovers he’s alone in the great hall. He’s led to a horrific clue in the Capitol’s rotunda, and thus begins a race to save his friend’s life, despite interference from capitol police, the CIA’s top brass and a very twisted villain who will stop at nothing to realize his dark dream of unification.

No spoilers here, but suffice it to say the gruesome nature of the clue haunted me long after the book ended. I kept thinking the clue wasn’t real ... or wasn’t really what it was ... I kept hoping it was a sick joke played on Langdon by the book’s bad guy, but no such luck. It was the real thing. Yipes and yuck!

Before long, Langdon’s on the run, joined by Solomon’s sister, Katherine, a noetic* scientist and director of “the world’s largest and most technologically advanced museum ... hous[ing] more pieces than the Hermitage, the Vatican Museum, and the New York Metropolitan ... combined.”

Langdon and Katherine team up to follow clue after hidden clue, save Solomon’s life and stop the mad man who always seems to be one step ahead of them. Their journey carries them from the capitol to the National Cathedral to a mansion in the tony Klaorama Heights neighborhood, ending in a brutal confrontation at The House of the Temple, “the crown jewel of the Masonic Scottish Rite in America.”

Once the story got rolling, Brown left me no choice but to finish, even if it took until 4:30 in the morning to turn the last page. It was a rip-roaring ride. I figured out early on who the villain was and why he was driven to do what he did, but it did not distract from plot. I’ve never been very good at deciphering codes or solving ancient problems, but not to worry – Robert Langdon does all the work for me.

Much has been made about the use of Masonic symbols in this book. While the plot is driven by Masonic symbols and secrets, this is a work of fiction and reading any more into the plot means you have way too much time on your hands – at least that’s how it looks from my roost in the reading room.

*

The Lost Symbol
By Dan Brown
Doubleday. Fiction.
$29.95. 509 pp.
Five out of five stars

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Note: This book contains a boatload of graphic violence, most of it sitting right on the edge of decency. If you have a weak stomach or a sensitive gag reflex, be warned: This may not be the book for you.

*Noetics, according to Wikipedia, “includes research into topics such as spontaneous remission, meditation, consciousness, alternative healing practices, spirituality, human potential, psychic abilities and survival of consciousness after bodily death, among others.”
 

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