The Lost Symbol is the long and widely awaited third volume by Dan Brown featuring symbologist Robert Langdon, diving into the occult surrounding us, and taking us at the crossroads between ancient mysteries and new technologies…

The whole novel takes place in Washington D.C., a place I visited 7 years ago, and I am ashamed to realize everything I missed in this town. I certainly wish I could have read The Lost Symbol before going to D.C., so that I could have seen it from a different point of view. This time, Langdon is helping a friend, Peter Solomon, the highest-ranking man in the hierarchy of Washington’s Freemasons lodge. Solomon is in a dreadful predicament, and Langdon must find the key that will allow Mal’akh, the villain of the story, to have access to the powerful secret concealed by the Freemasons for centuries…

Let’s start by stating this, since numerous reviews have already done it: the novel is flawed, like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons were, like each novel tackling arcane subjects inevitably is. Of course, when the hero in a novel is pursuing a secret of earth-shattering proportions, what can you expect? To have a mind-blowing revelation at the end of the novel? Would the author devise such an ending, the reader would feel badly cheated… The only solution is then for the author to find an elegant (or less elegant) way out. And the reader still feels badly cheated… You cannot win when writing such a novel… I haven’t yet made up my mind about the actual elegance of Dan Brown’s way out (which, in my opinion, leaves room for a fourth installment in the Landgon’s intellectual adventures), but it certainly made me think about the ending of Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, and I have wondered if maybe Dan Brown’s conclusion was the response of an unsatisfied reader of Eco’s novel (to sum it up, only one of the two considers the occult completely baloney)… I presume that many readers will have also pointed out that some plot twists are very easy to guess in advance: no, Dan Brown is not very convincing when throwing red herrings at the reader. Ah, and yes, Dan Brown probably has the new movie featuring Tom Hanks already in mind when writing the book (both my husband and I thought he had a wish to see Morgan Freeman casted in the part of the Architect of the Capitol!)

It remains that, despite its flaws, The Lost Symbol is a real page turner. Dan Brown, despite all his shortcomings as an author, knows how to write roller-coaster rides, books that you will raise your eyes from only to frown at the person who dares disturb your reading. And for this, I have to rate this novel high, despite the flaws. As much as I could not understand the hype around The Da Vinci Code (which deserved about the same praises and critics as this one), I cannot understand the disappointment with this one: both are page turners, but there are just that, novels. Dan Brown, in my opinion, is on a par with the late Michael Crichton. Both are authors of novels with a very good entertaining and informative value but without great writing skills. So, forget your expectations and just enjoy the good time!

Rating: 4/5