Dan Brown is the mono-sodium glutamate of fiction writers. Let me explain. You know that feeling you get when you eat a Chinese takeaway, that feeling of rich satisfaction and fullness — how five minutes after you have finished those feelings have been replaced by a feeling of emptiness, when you feel bloated and yet strangely unfulfilled? That feeling is created by the wonders of MSG and it’s exactly the feeling you will get reading The Lost Symbol.
First of all lets start by putting all our cards on the table. I read The DaVinci Code before it got big (honest I did) because of a longstanding interests in esoteric tales. For the same reason I have read Clive Cussler, enjoyed Indiana Jones and was glued to the X-files. So I enjoyed The DaVinci Code largely because of the subject matter. Then things got out of hand. Sales of the book took off, everybody was reading it and inevitably its popularity led to an intense literary snobbery. Clearly true art can’t be popular so therefore popularity equals poor art.
I was confused. Was this the same book I read and kind of enjoyed (I also read Brown’s other books and kind of enjoyed them)? Was it really so bad, am I that poor a judge of writing, what exactly did I enjoy? So I started The Lost Symbol with some trepidation, almost embarrassment, at reading such populist trash. Why, I might as well be reading Jeffrey Archer or Jilly Cooper!
Back to the current book though, and a brief synopsis. Robert Langdon (international symbol expert) is called to Washington to give a talk, only when he gets there he discovers that he is instead on a quest. It’s a quest which sees him and his (brilliant) female companion try to evade capture by a homicidal maniac whilst being helped by rich old man (that’s right -- it’s the same plot at The DaVinci Code).
Needless to say the characters are drawn into a world of Masonic conspiracies, hidden knowledge and a quest to discover the ultimate secret. Do they succeed... well, you will have to read it to find out but don’t build up your hopes.