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The L.A. Times book review: Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol'

September 13, 2009 |  9:30 pm

ThelostsymbolThe book won't hit shelves until Tuesday and hasn't been distributed to reviewers; nevertheless, our Nick Owchar has been among the few to have seen and read "The Lost Symbol," the follow-up to Dan Brown's mega-bestseller, "The Da Vinci Code." In his review of "The Lost Symbol," which runs in today's edition of the L.A. Times, he writes:

Like "Angels and Demons," published in 2000, and "The Da Vinci Code," "The Lost Symbol" solves puzzles, analyzes paintings and reveals forgotten histories -- all so that Brown's tireless hero, Robert Langdon, can find a legendary Masonic treasure despite special ops squads that are dogging him and a bizarre killer who has kidnapped his dear friend and mentor.

There is one mystery, though, that remains unsolved after three books.

Will Langdon ever get to rest?

Robert Langdon, the noted Harvard symbologist who sped through Brown's last two novels and has been played on screen by Tom Hanks, finds himself pursued by mysterious, malevolent forces. He manages to survive only with a combination of luck and smarts.

And, also, an attractive female intellectual. There's a new one here, who both aids Langdon on his quest and serves as a foil for the lessons he will impart. In this book, which is set in Washington, D.C., many of those lessons revolve around the Freemasons, a fraternal group founded centuries ago, long rumored to have significant influence over American politics and culture. 

Dan Brown told Parade magazine that he began work on "The Lost Symbol" before "The Da Vinci Code" became the phenomenal success that it did. Brown said:

The thing that happened to me and must happen to any writer who's had success is that I temporarily became very self-aware. Instead of writing and saying, "This is what the character does," you say, "Wait, millions of people are going to read this." ... You're temporarily crippled....[later] The furor died down, and I realized that none of it had any relevance to what I was doing. I'm just a guy who tells a story.

This Robert Langdon sequel has been in the works since those early days. Owchar's take: Like the last book, this one is quick-moving but occasionally clunky. And it's fair to wonder: Can the secretive but  secular Freemasons be as compelling as the untold mysteries of the Catholic Church?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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