Reviewing The Lost Symbol

An iPhone image of Dan Brown (right) and editor Jason Kaufman speaking at The Lost Symbol book lanch party, Gotham Hall, New York. (Photo by LA Times reporter Carolyn Kellogg.)

An iPhone image of Dan Brown (right) and editor Jason Kaufman speaking at The Lost Symbol book lanch party, Gotham Hall, New York. (Photo by LA Times reporterCarolyn Kellogg.)

Dan Brown had a lot of people to thank at the New York book party for The Lost Symbol: his wife, Blythe, his editor, Jason Kaufman, his agent, Heide Lange, Knopf-Doubleday Publisher Sonny Mehta, Mehta’s publishing staff, friends, family, readers.

But, according to Publisher’s Marketplace, Brown found time to single out a reviewer too. “A woman I’ve never met but a woman whom I love deeply: Janet Maslin. Thank you for understanding what I do. And let me add that I think italics are deeply underrated,” joked the author, about Maslin’s embargo-busting review in the New York Times.

The Lost Symbol has not been universally praised. The Wall Street Journal’s Charlotte Allen seemed a little bored, Entertainment Weekly’s Thom Geier gave the book a tepid C+, and the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Jehu eviscerated Brown in just 250 words.

But, by and large, initial reviews have been positive. The Washington Post’s Louis Bayard was glad of “a few hours’ entertainment,” Malcolm Jones, of Newsweek, called the book a fascinating pleasure, and the New York Daily News’ Sherryl Connelly declared it to be “thrilling in the extreme, a definite page-flipper.

We’ll give the final word to one of our favorite reviews, Lev Grossman, in Time, who writes of Brown:

He’s set himself a huge challenge. What he did for Christianity in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, Brown is now trying to do for America: reclaim its richness, its darkness, its weirdness. It’s probably a quixotic effort, but it is nevertheless touchingly valiant. We’re not just overweight tourists in T-shirts and fanny packs, he says. Our history is as sick and weird as anybody’s! There’s signal in the noise, order in the chaos! It just takes a degree from a nonexistent Harvard department to see it.

Paul Berger, Contributing Editor, Secrets of the Lost Symbol.

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