After the stupendous success of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has again come up trumps with another bestseller in “The Lost Symbol.” The novel broke all the sales records on the day it was published (15th September 2009), and continues to be at the top (or near the top) of bestseller lists.
Robert Langdon features as the male protagonist for the third time ( he was seen earlier in Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, aided by a researcher in ‘noetic sciences’ (admittedly I heard of this term the first time I read the book), Katherine. Dan Brown’s penchant for power centers and secret societies continues. Angels & Demons had CERN-Vatican and Illuminati; The Da Vinci Code had The Church and Priory of Sion; Deception Point had NASA; and Digital Fortress had NSA. The Lost Symbol features Freemasons and the narrative takes place in the heart of Washington, D.C : the US Capitol Building itself.
Antagonist is a lone figure, but a unique one at that.
So, what works in the novel?
Definitely the trademark Dan Brownian blend of fact and fiction and fast paced plot. At the end of every chapter (they are short and many); you are on the edge to know what happens next. Brown presents the all-so-familiar artifacts (the Capitol building, the Smithsonian Museum) and objects (the dollar currency) in such a startling manner that one keeps on reading out of sheer curiosity and amazement.
What doesn’t work?
The plot, though interesting in specifics, is a bit repetitive overall. Also, dialogs could have been better. At times they seem too artificial and a bit overdramatic.
It’s definitely worth a read. The book succeeds in arousing our curiosity about Freemasons and also makes us think about the potential of humand mind and body.
Personally, I enjoyed Angels and Demons the most, closely followed by The Da Vinci Code, with the Digital Fortress trailing a short distance behind. I would place The Lost Symbol a notch above Digital Fortress, because it ends so beautifully, on a positive note.