Dan Brown delivers action-packed if familiar 'Lost Symbol'
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
Dan Brown's long-anticipated new novel, The Lost Symbol, takes Da Vinci Code hero Robert Langdon to Washington, D.C. to decipher Masonic symbols.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Lost Symbol
By Dan Brown
Doubleday, 509 pp., $29.95
Grab your history books, conspiracy theories and decoder rings: The long wait for a new novel from Dan Brown is over.
Six years after The Da Vinci Code, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is back unraveling ancient secrets, solving puzzles and running for his life in the turbo-charged The Lost Symbol.
Fans will feel at home in Symbol because it's cookie-cutter Code: Same formula for the same hero, just set in a new location, Washington, D.C. The book is not without its faults, but Code lovers will like what they find in The Lost Symbol.
Conspiracy theorists had a field day with Code's papal secrets. The Lost Symbol centers on the mysterious Freemasons and legends of hidden knowledge. It's intriguing but doesn't quite match Code's hard-to-top premise that hinged on the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and their modern-day bloodline.
But Brown couldn't have picked a better time to set a novel in the headline-making nation's capital.
Thankfully, he takes us away from our worries about war, bad mortgages and health care and throws us into the middle of an escapist story line that pits Langdon against Mal'akh, a monster more hideous than the self-flagellating albino monk in The Da Vinci Code.
Mal'akh is a steroid-pumped and hairless eunuch covered head to toe with tattoos of scales, words and symbols. He lures Langdon to Washington after he kidnaps Langdon's mentor, Peter Solomon. Langdon can save Solomon's life if he helps Mal'akh find an ancient portal behind which "a treasure of lost ancient wisdom" was hidden centuries ago by Freemasons.
The U.S Capitol, the Library of Congress and other landmarks play a role in this story that plays up the symbolic art and architecture of Washington.
Brown has never been lauded for his deft handling of the written word. As in his other books, here his prose can be clumsy, flowery and heavy-handed.
But, to his credit, he tells an action-packed story filled with fascinating history, myths, math, science, madmen and philosophers. There are chases through buildings and down city streets.
The Lost Symbol, like Brown's other works, isn't great literary fiction. But long ago, Brown cracked the code on how to write a best-selling novel. Fans will read this book and begin yearning for his next.