Robert Langdon returns for another cryptic adventure in Dan Brown's latest novel, THE LOST SYMBOL. In this Langdon episode, the Masons and their ties to secret mystical knowledge are the center of the action. Langdon is called to Washington DC by an old friend only to find a grisly clue left just for him in the Capitol rotunda. Langdon must race against time to solve an ancient Masonic mystery while a madman holds one of his dearest friends hostage.
Dan Brown has discovered a successful formula for his thrillers and fans will recognize it in this newest work. It is as if Brown simply takes the structure from his previous two books and inputs new information.
1) Langdon discovers cryptic and/or grisly clue in a famous place
2) Langdon must race against time to solve puzzles that involve famous people/places/items
3) Langdon enlists the help of a beautiful brainy woman
4) Langdon solves all the mysteries but withholds his discoveries from the rest of the world
5) the bad guy(s) are insane fanatics that are part of ancient cults/religious groups
There is really nothing new to add to this list in THE LOST SYMBOL. Dan Brown writes all of his books as if they are screenplays. He doesn't take the time to truly develop any of his characters. He is a good storyteller but he is not a very good writer. His chapters are short and choppy and Brown feels as if he must end every single chapter with a cliffhanger. I almost heard "DA DA DUM!!!" at the end of each chapter. My main beef with Brown is that I feel he condescends to his readers. He feels we do not have the capacity to enjoy stories that SLOWLY unfold or make us work in any way. His plot twists were so obvious and heavy-handed in this latest tale that there were absolutely no surprises.
I expected Brown to court more controversy with this book but the entire work seems to attempt to recruit readers into the Masons. Langdon spends the whole story talking up the Masons and how great they are. This book should also give Noetics a boost. Brown's historic facts are always fun and readers are sure to flock to the internet to look up much of the information. Perhaps the book will encourage more people to visit the nation's capitol.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a tough one. Was I entertained by this book? Yes. Is it a good book? No. I would recommend this book as a vacation read. If you have read Brown's other works, this one will feel VERY familiar to the point of being old hat. However, it is a quick entertaining read if that is all you are looking for.