The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - A Book Review

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Within hours of bookstores opening for business, The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown’s latest mystery-thriller racked up phenomenal sales in September 2009 and shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Critics turned up their noses, but were drowned in  the tsunami of public adoration.

For those who’ve come in late, this is Dan Brown’s third offering after his hugely successful The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, both of which were adapted into successful films. An unexpected spinoff was a surge of tourist interest in their respective locales, Paris and Rome, where there are guided tours of the adventure trail followed by Prof. Robert Langdon, symbologist and hero of all three novels.

Now, it’s Washington D.C’s turn. Prof. Langdon is invited to the Capitol by his mentor Peter Solomon, a Freemason, to deliver a lecture. It’s a ruse. What he finds is Peter’s tattooed, dismembered hand, pointing to the Capitol Dome. Peter’s been taken hostage by Mal’akh, a mysterious baddie. Langdon must find and decode an ancient symbol lost somewhere in the capital within twelve hours, or Peter will die and the US government will fall. The female interest is Katherine Solomon, Peter’s sister and noetics expert. Come again? Among other things, noetics science theorises that when several people share one thought, that thought can have a physical, measurable impact.

Subtlety of language, character development, depth…these aren’t what Dan Brown’s books are all about. What you get is an unabashed page-turner, a breathless race to the finish, filled with fascinating minutiae, mysteries and puzzles that leave you panting for more.

In the run up to its release, speculation was rife as to whether The Lost Symbol would match the unprecedented popularity of his previous works. Surprisingly, it has. Despite being no more than a tweaked clone of its predecessors, it possesses the same unputdownable quality of the others. Don’t read it in an airport lounge – you might miss your flight!

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