The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown
Dan Brown, author of the “Da Vinci Code”, has come up with another thriller that is thoroughly steeped in wealth, privilege, politics, secret fraternities, hidden laboratories, and the extremes of human nature. His character Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist, is yet again in the position of finding the solution to a cryptogram – only this time, his close friend and mentor Peter Solomon’s life is a stake. That is – if Solomon is still alive. It seems that Langdon took a private flight, and a private limo ride, at Solomon’s request, to come and give a lecture to a private charity. Only to find that Solomon’s right hand, wearing his Masonic ring, was abruptly left by a very strange individual in the Capitol Building (Washington, DC) – the building that Langdon was supposed to lecture in. The fingers of the hand have been tattooed, making the hand an exact replica of the Hand of the Mysteries!
Langdon is assisted by the victim’s sister, Kathy Solomon, a high powered research scientist in the Noetic field, with a private laboratory funded by her brother. Strange characters enter the fray faster than one can count – the second in command at the CIA, a Japanese woman by the name of Sato, with a “take no prisoners” mentality; Warren Bellamy, Architect of the Capitol, and 33rd degree Mason; the Reverend Doctor Colin Galloway, Cathedral Dean; and a super powered reincarnation of all that is evil in the form of an individual that has renamed himself Mal’akh.
Activity takes place in Washington, DC over the period of two days and a night. The symbolism in this book comes from Freemasonry. While Langdon is not a Freemason, he does hold up the Freemason argument throughout the book, and has a great deal of knowledge about them through his work as a symbologist.
There are many things to think about in this book – cryptograms, puzzles within puzzles, the architecture and layout of Washington, DC (which has a strong Masonic history going back to the founding fathers). Layer upon layer of mystery – the good guys become the bad guys, the bad guys become the good guys. A highly protected secret is at stake – and has to be balanced against the life of one man. Is this secret the symbol the Mal’akh is looking for, or is it something that could bring down the US government?
The writing is fast paced, and interesting. Enough information is given along the way that the reader can research any number of topics referred to in the book with some degree of clarity. I would like to have seen the Langdon character exhibit a bit more backbone, and a bit more common sense! Kathy Solomon (Peter Solomon’s sister) uses her wisdom to get them out of more than one tricky situation. Too often, the reader knew what a character was going to say or do before they did it. I would also like to have seen the character of Warren Bellamy, Architect of the Capitol, continue with the strength of attitude that he was introduced with.
Aside from the art and architecture references, the backbone of the Freemason thinking, and their history and rituals, was decently presented. As with all things, take from this book what you will. It is not a book on Freemasonry, it is a fiction novel. Enjoy it as a wonderful mystery, a time out from day to day life. For mystery fans, for fans of Dan Brown, and those interested in the human psyche – this book is well worth reading.
© September 2009