Bookmarks Issue: 
Dan Brown

A-The Lost SymbolDan Brown’s runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code ( 4 of 5 Stars May/June 2003) was translated into 44 different languages and sold over 80 million copies worldwide. Famed symbologist Robert Langdon returns in this latest novel, hot on the trail of ancient mysteries in Washington, D.C.

The Story: When longtime friend Peter Solomon of the Smithsonian Institution asks Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon to fill in as a last-minute lecturer, Langdon is surprised to arrive in Washington and discover that the speaking engagement is a hoax. He is even more shocked to learn that Peter has been abducted, his severed hand with a Masonic ring left carefully posed on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda. No ordinary criminal, Peter’s kidnapper demands the key to a Masonic secret so devastating that the founding fathers themselves concealed it from humankind. Joined by Peter’s sister Katherine, Langdon must find and interpret the clues hidden in the city’s art and architecture if he is to save his friend.
Doubleday. 509 pages. $29.95. ISBN: 9780385504225

Christian Science Monitor 3.5 of 5 Stars
"No one has ever pretended that Brown is a gifted literary stylist, and those who find him lacking in that area will not have their minds changed by The Lost Symbol. … But for readers who stay with it (and I can’t think there are really too many who are going to put this book down halfway through), it all comes together quite neatly in the end. Brown is good at what he does—very good, in fact." Marjorie Kehe

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Brown’s narrative moves rapidly, except for those clunky moments when people sound like encyclopedias (‘The sacred symbol of the Hebrews is the Jewish star—the Seal of Solomon—an important symbol to the Masons!’). But no one reads Brown for style, right? … The Lost Symbol is more like the experience on any roller coaster—thrilling, entertaining and then it’s over." Nick Owchar

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As in his other books, here his prose can be clumsy, flowery and heavy-handed. … But, to his credit, he tells an action-packed story filled with fascinating history, myths, math, science, madmen and philosophers." Carol Memmott

San Antonio Exp-News 3 of 5 Stars
"The historical references that Brown liberally sprinkles throughout the book are fascinating in their own way. … If The Lost Symbol has a fatal flaw, it’s that the basic plot structure is the same as The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons." Harry Thomas

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Writers envious of Brown’s sales (who wouldn’t be?) have devoted much ink to his deficiencies as a stylist. … Call it Brownian motion: a comet-tail ride of short paragraphs, short chapters, beautifully spaced reveals and, in the case of The Lost Symbol, a socko unveiling of the killer’s true identity." Louis Bayard

Boston Globe 2 of 5 Stars
"Higher book sales and more readers are certainly good things, but what’s less so in this latest adventure is Brown’s paint-by-numbers plot, his wooden dialogue, his dull prose style, his unintentionally comic narrative grandeur, and his two-dimensional characters. … Yet, to be fair, the book has its moments of pure, cheesy fun." Chuck Leddy

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Using ‘good’ as a relative term, the new Brown isn’t as good as the old one. Like the alchemists he loves to mention, Brown’s magic at first looks sensational, but it turns to dross once the fireworks fizzle." Bob Hoover

Critical Summary

"Together again," proclaimed the Wall Street Journal, "an exciting thriller and a tedious sermon"—a view shared by many critics, who remarked on Brown’s ability to build suspense into a dizzying, ever-accelerating narrative through short chapters and breathless cliffhangers, but panned his philosophical ruminations and his "habit of turning characters into docents" (Washington Post). Several critics also noted that, while The Lost Symbol shares many of The Da Vinci Code’s shortcomings, including melodramatic prose, stock characters, and far-fetched plot devices, it lacks the former novel’s emotional punch and audacity. Those who appreciated Symbol most were able to overlook its flaws and lose themselves in the story. Da Vinci Code fans may experience some déjà vu, but they should find this latest novel just as entertaining.