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The Lost Symbol: 02/03/10

When the Weekly Geeks asked for our top reads of books published in 2009, I included <0385533136?p_isbn">The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Although I don't like to call any of my reading "guilty pleasures" if I were forced to, then Dan Brown would be one of my "guilty pleasures."

Robert Langdon is back for his third adventure. This time he's in Washington D.C. trying to help rescue a friend whose severed hand is left in the capitol as a dare and invitation to Langdon.

Anyone who knows anything about Washington D.C. already knows it's a city full of Masonic history and symbolism. Just look at the back of the dollar bill and you'll see the Masonic temple. It's not exactly a secret part of the United States' history or culture.

So before even cracking open the book I had a pretty good idea of what would be contained within. First there's the crazy and dangerous quest done against a ticking Mickey Mouse watch. There's a fanatically evil villain who is closely related to the victim (in one way or another). There's the pseudo-science which is there to remind everyone that the book is fiction and finally there's the (mangled) symbology and art history.

To put it another way, Dan Brown writes capers. They're art history themed capers through famous landmarks: Vatican City/Rome, Paris/London and now Washington D.C. When you add in the symbology puzzles these books begin to resemble a grown up version of the old Encyclopedia Brown series of mysteries. A big part of the fun for me is figuring out the solution to the biggest riddle and the location of the treasure long before "expert" Robert Langdon does.

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