Dan Brown’s novels follow a formula, but it’s a formula that works. For the most part, The Lost Symbol is a gripping thriller. The end is a little flat, but overall it kept my attention, kept me turning the pages.

Robert Langdon, famed symbologist, is summoned to Washington, DC under false pretenses. Once there, he learns that a good friend is in danger. The villain, a psychopath, insists that Robert is the only one who can help him uncover the secret portal to the word that will unlock the ancient mysteries, or something like that. Langdon has to solve a series of codes, of course, and interpret a variety of symbols, on his desperate search around Washington. Luckily he has a beautiful, intelligent woman to help him on his quest. Unluckily, the CIA seems to think he should help them, at the expense of his friend’s life.

US Capitol Rotunda- The Apotheosis of Washington

Brown tends to use settings with historical value and likes to teach us about secret societies or conspiracies. In this case, we’ve got Washington, DC with its symbolic architecture and the history and philosophy of the Freemasons, whose past members included many of our founding fathers and whose current members include many powerful, high-ranking men. And I have to admit, I get caught up in the info, just like he wants me to. I want to visit Washington again, see the statues and paintings, monuments and buildings he talks about.

I don’t think it was quite as engrossing as Brown’s other Langdon novels, perhaps because I knew what to expect or I just don’t find the Masonic secrets as fascinating as the more religious themes. But it’s a fun read, and I read it fairly quickly, considering it’s over 500 pages long. It probably could have been 100 pages shorter, but that’s neither here not there.

This is one of those stories where plot and setting take center stage. The characters are okay, but I wasn’t really invested in any of them, and the bad guy is just evil, he doesn’t think he’s going to save the world. The dialogue isn’t outstanding, and I’m not even sure how clever the codes really were, but honestly I’m fine with that. It was a fun read and that’s what I was expecting.

National Cathedral

On a side note, one of the folks mentioned in the books is Albrecht Durer, a painter from the late 1400s and early 1500s who I had never heard of until this month. In an odd coincidence, he’s also part of the focus in The 7th Knot by Kathleen Karr, the book my daughter, Amber, and I are reading together.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Thriller

Amazon | IndieBound | Website

Robert Langdon #3
Published September 15, 2009
509 pages

Book source: Borrowed

Robert Langdon Series

  1. Angels and Demons
  2. The DaVinci Code
  3. The Lost Symbol