The Lost Symbol

I was stunned by the first blog I read of The Lost Symbol once I'd finished the book. The writer ripped the shingles off Dan Brown for writing claptrap about the secret societies, a subject he was sure Brown knew nothing about, and was so vitriolic in his outrage that I wondered which part of the novel had offended him. This, however, was never going to be revealed because at the end of his rant he wrote that he had not and would not ever, ever, ever, read the book! Right away I was reminded of the kerfuffle in Peterborough County in the 1980s when a woman demanded that Margaret Laurence's The Diviners be banned from the school system, only to eventually admit that she'd never read it. Recently I heard a librarian hypothesize that at some point in the future books will be downloaded directly into our brains, but who knows, maybe this is already happening?! How else could you dis a book you'd never read? (Well, actually, legitimate but harried book reviewers do this all the time but they don't start bonfires.)

I thought it was courteous of Brown to lay out in his foreward just what is factual in The Lost Symbol so that the reader doesn't have to grapple with fact over fiction. How long has it been since the release of The DaVinci Code? Five years? I've got to say, Brown, who is purportedly worth $250 million and entitled to buy his own country and sip margaritas for the rest of his life, has instead not only produced a novel of page-turning suspense but done massive amounts of research into realms the average person isn't even aware of. And although the Masons figure prominently in the plot, it is the revelation of the secret they are guarding in the book that was, for me, simply spectacular. In the end, it was not the Society or the exploration into the magically-conceived city of Washington, D.C., but the secret itself that proved to be the gem and glory of this feast. Without giving it away, something genuine shone from this premise, something that so had the ring of truth to it that I've been compelled to investigate it further. And I think that this is just about the best gift an author can give a reader.