Category Archives: Lost Symbol Secrecy

Where We Expect to See Matt Lauer on Monday

Continuing our series of posts second-guessing the Today Show, we believe Matt Lauer will be at Union Station in Washington tomorrow morning.

As we revealed last week, someone has been posting the clues to the Today show’s Search for the Lost Symbol” competition, one day early, on

Therefore, we can fairly confidently say that tomorrow’s clue will be:

Location 4:
40.750305, -73.993156
89 Palmetto
Count the Hills of Rome

Secrets of The Lost Symbol editor Arne de Keijzer instantly worked out that “40.750305, -73.993156” is the latitude/longitude of New York’s Penn Station, “Palmetto” is an Amtrack train, and “#89” goes south.

Meanwhile, members of our Secrets team and the band of Twitterers we have been following, reasoned that the seven hills of Rome probably had a correlation to the seven Amtrak stops between Penn Station and Union Station in Washington.

Secrets’ investigative reporter Dave Shugarts is particularly convinced because many of the landmarks revealed so far have been within jogging distance of each other and because there are many elements of Union Station, such as its statuary, that could be of interest to Dan Brown. We’ll find out in the morning.

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

Dan Burstein interviewed on The Takeaway

When Dan Brown writes about big ideas, such as the early days of Christianity, the centuries-long tension between science and religion, or the alternate history of Mary Magdalene, readers want to know more.

In this interview, broadcast on NPR’s The Takeaway this morning, “Secrets” editor Dan Burstein explains that’s why our “Secrets” books have sold more than three million copies since Secrets of the Code was first published in 2004.

We don’t personally know all the answers. But we do go out and find the best minds–the world’s leading historians, philosophers, theologians, writers and thinkers–to try to separate fact from fiction.

Dan Brown’s latest novel, released this Tuesday, will explore American history set against the backdrop of Freemasonry. Now, what could be a more fascinating topic for us to investigate than that?

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

Secrets of the Lost Symbol Continues its 100% Record vs. Matt Lauer

house_of_the_templeSo, we were right again, predicting the answer to the Today show clue–The House of the Temple–a full 12 hours before it aired!

If you want to see how we did it, read on here.

And if you want to know more about the House of the Temple, stay tuned for future posts about the building, its history, and the man whose remains are stored there: Albert Pike.

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

Tomorrow’s “Search for the The Lost Symbol” Answer Today – Part II

Will we see Matt Lauer at The House of the Temple tomorrow?

Will we see Matt Lauer at The House of the Temple tomorrow?

This is where we believe you will see Matt Lauer tomorrow morning for the third installment of the Today show’s “Search for the Lost Symbol” competition.

Each day, Lauer is reporting from a different “secret” location, in Washington D.C., that figures in the plot of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

These locations are supposed to be revealed in a carefully controlled manner. But, as we said yesterday, someone appears to be posting the clues that go along with the video reports one day early in an innocuous pdf document on The Lost Symbol Amazon’s page.

According to that document, tomorrow morning’s clue will be:

Houses the remains of this CONFEDERATE: CHOEPSLTGE

Our first instinct was that the answer is: ALBERT PIKE. After all, we are convinced he will play a key role in The Lost Symbol and he is the only Confederate general to be honored with an outdoor statue in Washington. But we could not figure out how to get the answer we wanted.

The solution came with the help of @bgates87, who, as we said yesterday, has been one of the leading Twitterers chasing down these riddles. William confirmed our hunch and supplied the evidence to prove it:

The clue is encrypted with what’s called a Keyword Cipher. It’s a substitution cipher that uses an altered alphabet to encrypt the plaintext. With a Keyword Cipher you use a keyword to rearrange the alphabet, moving all of the letters in the keyword to the front and omitting repeated letters. In this case, the keyword is CONFEDERATE, hinted at by the fact that it’s written in capital letters. So, the rearranged alphabet is:


You use this alphabet to encrypt the plaintext or decrypt the ciphertext. For decryption, it’s easiest to set it up like this:

| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Now, to decrypt the message “CHOEPSLTGE,” you simply substitute each letter in the ciphertext with the letter it corresponds to in the plain alphabet. So, substitute the ciphertext letters for their plaintext counterparts…

So, Albert Pike it is! And why the House of the Temple? Well, Pike was one of the leading Masons of the 19th century. After his death, in 1891, he was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. But shortly before the end of the Second World War his remains were moved the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction—aka the House of the Temple.

We’ll be writing about both Albert Pike and the House of the Temple a lot more in the coming weeks.

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

We Were Right!

So, it looks like we were right. Today’s Lost Symbol clue for the Today show (see below) was exactly as we predicted last night. The question is, will the clues continue to leak out on Amazon? As of now, only the puzzle for Location 2 is showing. But we’ll check back later in the day, just in case.

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

Tomorrow’s “Search for the The Lost Symbol” Answer Today

location1Throughout this week, the Today show is teasing viewers with clues to the major plot locations for The Lost Symbol. Some people solved today’s puzzle in a matter of minutes. (The answer was, of course, the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center.) But we think we might be able to do one better. We think we can solve tomorrow’s puzzle today.

If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

Our investigative reporter Dave Shugarts tells us that he has a good lead that the answer to tomorrow’s puzzle will be the US Botanic Garden.

How does he know? Well, it’s all thanks to a team of Twitterers: @UDbmas (Cheryl Lynn Helm), @bgates87 (Bill Gates), @deetective (Simon Cassidy) and @avalonssari (Val Foster). They’ve been solving the myriad puzzles put out by Dan Brown’s publishers all summer. And in the process, one of them — Dave’s says its @bgates87 — stumbled across a weakness in the Lost Symbol security. It originates with Amazon.

Jeff Bezos may have boasted of the extraordinary measures taken to protect the physical books that are now sitting in his warehouse waiting to ship on September 15. But he seems to have overlooked online security.

On the Amazon page for The Lost Symbol, just below the price, is a special section teasing the release of:

mysterious new messages from the Lost Symbol Twitter and Facebook accounts every weekday.” [Emphasis is Amazon’s.]

That teaser is followed by a link to a pdf file of Lost Symbol puzzles. But it seems that an overzealous technician at Amazon is posting the clues one day early. And at lunchtime today, that pdf file contained the clue not only to Location 1, broadcast on the Today show this morning, but also to Location 2:


It didn’t take long for the Twitter group to work out that the three phrases are anagrams of ORCHID HOUSE, PRIMEVAL GARDEN, PLANT ADAPTATION and that the answer is the US Botanic Garden.

We are willing to hedge our bets. But we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re right. We’ll find out in the morning.

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

Are Librarians The Weak Link in The Lost Symbol Security?

secrecyIs it just us, or does the secrecy surrounding The Lost Symbol seems to be more intense than an Apple product launch? Amazon boasted this week that it was keeping its copies of Dan Brown’s new novel under 24-hour guard, behind a chain-link enclosure with locks that require two separate people to gain entry. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bragged that “even inside Random House, only a half dozen employees have been allowed to read The Lost Symbol in its entirety.”

New York Magazine seems to thinks Amazon’s defenses should to be beefed up. But maybe Amazon is the least of Random House’s problems. Think about it. The publisher is printing 5 million copies. This book has gone through so many pairs of hands that somebody, somewhere must be tempted to let the secret out.

We had our suspicions it might be someone on the publishing side. Until we saw this warning from the Random House Library Services department and we thought, of course — librarians!

Random House will soon be delivering copies of The Lost Symbol to libraries across the country. And Dave, in Random House’s library services department, begs librarians to “please, please don’t lend them out early” particularly to “crazies hovering around the desk.”

If the carrot doesn’t work, Dave isn’t scared to deploy the stick either.

He reminds librarians that (a) they have signed an affidavit that even he admits is “a little overblown” and (b) that Random House has a track record of coming down on lax librarians in the past: “Putting Harry Potter out early caused some major headaches for those who’ve done it, not to mention the chaos it causes above and below me here in New York,” he warns.

All of which begs the question: exactly how early will libraries receive their copies of The Lost Symbol? And are there any librarians out there willing to risk Dave’s wrath, and a “major headache,” to spill the secrets to our team?

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