BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Lost SymbolConfession: Every once in a while, I do actually read mass-market bestsellers. I’ll even admit this is my second Dan Brown – had to see what all the hubbub about The Da Vinci Code was about! Am still rolling my eyes over that one (egads! as if names don’t change over a couple thousands years??!!), although with The Lost Symbol, I’m sure the eyeballs are now permanently stuck.

But read Symbol I did! I mean I listened to Paul Michael narrate every word. Why the interest? Peter Solomon is supposedly head of the Smithsonian (see that familiar sunburst across the top of this page?), one of the main characters was supposedly born in the Japanese American prison camp Manzanar, I was a teenage Congressional intern another century ago, and it’s set in Washington, DC which for decades I’ve called ‘home.’

Most probably know that story already, but in case you’ve been hiding under a literal rock (like me), here’s the gist: Robert Langdon (this is book #3 in which the Tom Hanks character stars; yes, the film is due out next year) is called to the Capitol by his longtime mentor Peter Solomon’s assistant as a last-minute replacement to headline a Smithsonian gala. He gets embroiled in a grisly manhunt to save Peter who’s actually missing, leaving behind his severed right hand. The chase is encumbered by the CIA, led by the tiny but powerful Inoue Sato (whose description screams Linda Hunt – and what do you know, Linda Hunt has apparently been cast!). Picked up along the way are the Architect of the Capitol Warren Bellamy and Peter’s genius noetic scientist sister Katherine. They’re all in a race against time to stop the steroid-enhanced, tattooed monster Mal’akh. The thrill-ride takes over 600 pages to unfold the events of one Sunday-into-Monday night.

Some gripes: Inoue Sato is always referred to as Japanese (a “Japanese steamroller” at one point!), even though she’s actually American; her full name is dubiously made up of two common Japanese surnames which would be equivalent to calling someone Brown Smith; the story has too many implausible plot twists, beginning with Langdon just blindly heading to DC without even once talking to Solomon or even questioning the unfamiliar number he’s just called; most annoying, Brown’s not-very-subtle hints about Mal’akh’s true identity were like being repeatedly bludgeoned!

But some grudging kudos: the breath of information is truly astounding; Brown again relishes taking the Christian Church (and organized religion in general) to task; his frequent reminders (pleas?) for religious tolerance are bolstered by his well-documented insistence on the shared origins of all religions; and the history of the Freemasons is pretty remarkable.

So one book hardly makes me a mainstream expert, but two Dan Brown thrillers get me close enough for now …

Readers: Adult

Published: 2009


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