"The Lost Symbol", the follow-up to Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," was released on Tuesday. You don't have to be a Freemason to enjoy it -- although it wouldn't hurt.
Like "Angels & Demons," published in 2000, and "The Da Vinci Code," this new story solves puzzles, analyzes paintings and reveals forgotten histories -- all so that Brown's tireless hero, Robert Langdon, can find a legendary Masonic treasure despite special-ops squads that are dogging him and a bizarre killer who has kidnapped his dear friend and mentor.
There is one mystery, though, that remains unsolved after three books.
You'd think a 46-year-old Harvard symbologist's most strenuous chores would be grinding his Sumatran coffee beans in the morning or persuading bored undergrads to appreciate hidden meanings in the world around them. Langdon does these things, but he's also the guy who survived an anti-matter explosion at the Vatican and uncovered the truth about the Holy Grail (although, according to the new novel, he's kept this a secret). Not your average academic.
It was also reported, the new book isn't expected to be as controversial as "The Da Vinci Code."
"It's hard to imagine anyone, after reading 'The Lost Symbol,' debating about Freemasonry in Washington, D.C., the way people did Brown's radical vision of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in 'Code'," the Los Angeles Times said in a review.
"That book hit a deep cultural nerve for obvious reasons; 'The Lost Symbol' is more like the experience on any roller coaster -- thrilling, entertaining and then it's over."
The New York Times said Brown had escaped the curse some other well-known authors had suffered when they followed up popular books with embarrassments.
The Lost Symbol," which has an announced first printing of 5 million copies, is not the first thriller to weave the Masons into a plot — Brown did so in "Angels & Demons" and Brad Meltzer has Masonic references in "Book of Fate." But Brown was clever nonetheless in choosing the Masonic Order to center his book. It's a fraternal society steeped in history, mystery and ritual, one that has claimed as members some of history's most influential men: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Mozart and Teddy Roosevelt, among others.
Brown spent time in Washington and at a Masonic museum in Alexandria, Va., to help in the writing of his novel. His interpretation of Mason lore folds seamlessly into the plot.
American Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Secretaries of State, Defense Secretaries, White House staff, and many Senators and Congressmen display many or most of the traits of criminal psychopaths and mass murderers