Reviewed October 2, 2009.
Doubleday, New York, 2009. 509 pages.
It took me a long time to get through The Lost Symbol, because I felt like I read it before. The formula is the same as for The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Once again, we've got a supposedly earth-shaking secret with layers upon layers of clues that Robert Langdon is trying to solve before a crazy killer does something catastrophic.
(You would not have to read the earlier books in order to enjoy this one. The only thing in common is Robert Langdon, symbologist. And the plot.)
Dan Brown has a habit of short chapters, where people discover something that shocks them, and then it cuts away to something else. The reader doesn't learn the shocking secret until later. That worked to keep me reading in The Da Vinci Code, but two books later, I find it a little bit annoying.
I also had to laugh right at the beginning when secret government experiments in Noetic Science were discussed. It reminded me far too much of a nonfiction book my son recently had me check out for him titled Men Who Stare at Goats about secret government military experiments on the power of the mind, which have not borne much fruit at all. Having heard of that book ruined my ability to take the experiments in this book as seriously as they were intended.
However, even with all that said, even though my emotions weren't fully engaged in this book, I do like puzzles. And Dan Brown is exceptionally good at making puzzles, and puzzles that have layers and layers. So for the puzzles alone, this book was worth reading.
I also thoroughly enjoyed that this book was set in Washington, DC. I have been to the Louvre, which was important in The Da Vinci Code, and I was in Rome right after the Pope died, which was the setting of Angels and Demons. And now I live near Washington, DC. Last February, I was in the new Capitol Visitor's Center, which is where the story starts. And I have been at some of the other sites mentioned -- and they are always real places, described in detail, including details you probably didn't notice when you were there. So I will be looking at Washington, DC, with new eyes.