In 2003, Janet Maslin wholeheartedly endorsed then little-known author Dan Brown’s “gleefully erudite suspense novel” The Da Vinci Code.
“Not since the advent of Harry Potter has an author so flagrantly delighted in leading readers on a breathless chase and coaxing them through hoops,” she declared in the New York Times Book Review.
More than 80 million Da Vinci Code copies later, Brown is back with another novel and Maslin returns in the NYT with another enthusiastic review of Robert Langdon’s latest “rip-snorting adventure” which is “impossible to put down”:
Too many popular authors (Thomas Harris) have followed huge hits (“The Silence of the Lambs”) with terrible embarrassments (“Hannibal”). Mr. Brown hasn’t done that. Instead, he’s bringing sexy back to a genre that had been left for dead.
The new book clicks even if at first it looks dangerously like a clone. Here come another bizarre scene in a famous setting (the Capitol, not the Louvre), another string of conspiratorial secrets and another freakish-looking, masochistic baddie (tattooed muscleman, not albino monk) bearing too much resemblance to a comic-book villain. “If they only knew my power,” thinks this year’s version, a boastful psycho and cipher calling himself Mal’akh. “Tonight my transformation will be complete.”
Dan Brown fans were teased this weekend with “exclusive” excerpts of the prologue and first chapter of The Lost Symbol in a number of newspapers and magazines.
The setup, a masonic ceremony at the House of the Temple and Langdon’s arrival in Washington DC to deliver a lecture at the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol building for his mentor Peter Solomon, is textbook, fact-packed Dan Brown.
But it was Maslin who provided the greatest teaser of the weekend, by revealing that the fun really begins in the following chapters when readers discover that Langdon:
has been lured to Washington under a false pretext, a shriek arises from the Rotunda. Some fiend has deposited Peter Solomon’s severed, tattooed hand right above the Capitol Crypt — and right below the dome art that depicts George Washington, founding father and Freemason, as an ascending deity.
Maslin’s review, and similarly positive responses that are beginning to leak out in other newspapers, lead us to believe that The Lost Symbol may do more than live up to expectations.
Paul Berger, Contributing Editor, Secrets of the Lost Symbol.