Select one of the keywords
The Lost Symbol    by Dan Brown order for
Lost Symbol
by Dan Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dan Brown's recipe for fast-paced mystical thrillers has been well tested in his previous blockbusters, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Take a genial academic hero with a penchant for puzzles, toss him - and an attractive heroine - into a whirlwind of action. Force them to race against time and against a villain whose fiendish deeds strike horror in the eyes of beholders and readers. Throw in plenty of mysteries and mysticism from varied historical nooks and crannies. Blend it all into a twisty plot spiced with frequent surprises, including a big one at the end, proofread and publish - he's done it again with The Lost Symbol.

As always, a Prologue introduces the bogeyman of the piece, an initiate being accepted to the highest (the thirty-third) level of the Masons, smiling inwardly as he muses, 'Soon you will lose everything you hold most dear.' Next we join Harvard professor Robert Langdon (whom, since the movies, I cannot help but see as Tom Hanks in my mind's eye) who has been summoned to Washington D.C. by his old friend, mentor, and father figure Peter Solomon. But when Langdon arrives at the U.S. Capitol, he finds a different - and horrifying - summons from someone else entirely, and discovers that Peter is in that person's power.

The bald villain, who calls himself Mal'akh and is taking reinvention to extremes, has tattooed almost his entire body, though he disguises the facial markings with makeup as he goes about his daily affairs. Peter Solomon's lovely sister Katherine is a scientist, a leader in the obscure field of Noetic Science, 'opening new doors of understanding into the power of the human mind.' Mal'akh has contacted Katherine (in the guise of her brother's psychiatrist) and arranged a meeting at her otherwise impenetrable secret laboratory. He has dire plans for both Katherine and her life work.

Meanwhile, back at the Capitol Complex, a bewildered Langdon has been ordered by Mal'akh to find and unlock an ancient portal. And not only is the villain on his case, but CIA Office of Security Director Inoue Sato (whose motivation remains a secret till late in the story) as well. Soon the hunt is on through (and below) the streets of Washington, as Robert Langdon races against the clock to save his friend. He's quickly joined by Katherine Solomon, the authorities hot on their trail, as they seek the Masonic Pyramid to unlock the key to Ancient Mysteries, and free Peter.

I guessed a key part of the mystery early in the novel, but other puzzles and the motion picture action held my interest till the end. And though I enjoyed The Lost Symbol as a thriller, I appreciated even more its theme of transformation - individual and for mankind as a whole. As Langdon muses at the end: 'The ancients had praised God as a symbol of our limitless human potential, but that ancient symbol had been lost over time.' Though that idea gives Langdon hope, I can't help but worry that mankind as a whole - like Mal'akh - can use that potential for both good and ill. Don't miss The Lost Symbol - the book or the inevitable movie.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews