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"The Lost Symbol"
By Dan Brown
Published by Doubleday Books
Publication Date: September 15th, 2009

     First there was Angels and Demons - yes it came first in 2000 - a novel by Dan Brown about Robert Langdon, a professor of religious iconology and symbology at Harvard University.  Langdon is called upon to stop a plot set in motion by the Illuminati to blow up the Vatican, with something called antimatter that had been stolen from a high security research
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   In 2004, the world was bombarded with The Da Vinci Code. This time, Robert Langdon went in search of The Holy Grail - and along the way managed to upset The Knights Templar, The Priory of Sion, and the Opus Dei.  Somehow, this book went on to sell more than 80 million copies.
     And contrary to popular belief, it is not the Number One Best-Selling Book of All Time.  In fact, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix outsold the The Di Vinci Code that year.
    Next came two poorly made movies based on the books - and made out of order. Panned by fans and critics alike - and denounced by The Vatican - the movies still managed to rake in huge chunks of change. While the books and movies are entertaining, even Angels and Demons costar Stellan Skarsgard had an issue with the writing stating, "I think Dan Brown is a terribly bad writer, but he has cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, which makes you want to continue reading" - and stated that the script was significantly different from the book.  Angels and Demons, the better of Brown's work, still underwent minor changes before future printings, due to inaccuracies.
    Now we have The Lost Symbol.  Langdon is once again called upon to find something that is hidden in codes and buildings. Set in Washington D.C. - and taking place over the course of 12 hours - Langdon is trying to save his friend, Peter Solomon, because - are you ready? - Peter is a 33rd Degree Freemason who has been kidnapped by a man covered in tattoos named Mal'akh.
     Mal'akh tells Robert that Peter knows the secret that would unlock the "word" that is an ancient source of power.  Knowing that Peter gave part of the secret to Robert, Mal'akh tells Robert to unlock the Ancient Mysteries in exchange for Peter's life.
      In the meantime, Peter's sister Katherine is working on a top secret project in a pod - yes, a pod - deep in a government building.  But Mal'akh is hell bent on destroying her, too.  What I consider the best and most intense scene of the book takes place between Mal'akh and Katherine outside the pod.
     In the end, all is revealed - kind of.  There are chases and explosions. There are symbols and monuments. There are hidden rooms, secret passageways, dead bodies, giant squids (I'm not kidding) and more importantly, there is $29.95 plus tax wasted - unless you are a fan of predictable and poorly written fiction.
     Brown can weave an interesting story, but fails in the actual execution of his ideas. He may be better-suited to writing children's books rather than adult novels.
    Brown's promotional website states that puzzles are present on the book jacket, and you must decipher them in order to reveal the hidden message.  Maybe the hidden message in The Lost Symbol will tell us why Brown is planning 12 more novels featuring Robert Langdon?

Nick Manix is a professional writer and journalist who splits his time between Central Texas and New Orleans.

(Cover image courtesy Knopf Doubleday Publishing)