Doubleday, 2009; 509 pages
Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object -- artfully encoded with five symbols -- is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation...one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.
When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon -- a prominent Mason and philanthropist -- is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations -- all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
I love Dan Brown. There. I've said it. His books are so wonderfully exciting, and beautifully implausible -- such absolutely perfect guilty pleasures!
This is Brown's third book about Harvard professor Robert Langdon, so I guess that's enough to call it a series now. Langdon is still the same likable, self-effacing, modest-though-brilliant guy we got to know in the previous two books. Still getting into incredible amounts of trouble through no fault of his own. Still out there saving civilization as we know it, clad in Harris tweed and cordovan loafers, and with only his intellect as weapon. What a guy.
I picked this novel to start the year with because I figured it would be something I could stick with and get through quickly. And that was all true. Even though it's a bit of a chunkster (well, for me 500 pages is a lot), it was a very fast read. And informative, too: Brown always includes lots of nice detail for Langdon and all the other characters to pass along -- this time all about the Masons, our nation's Founding Fathers, and Washington DC. (Thrilling and educational! Can't beat that.)
I love the cinematic style of Brown's thrillers -- short, succinct chapters that keep you right there on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what's going to happen in the next scene. With each vignette, Brown grabs your attention and then rapidly pulls the ground out from under your feet, dumping you into the next bit of the story. And before you can get bored with that bit, the whole process repeats itself. Very like a movie, and very effective for this sort of tale. In this book, all of the action (500+ pages of it) takes place over just one day and night! And what a 24-hour roller-coaster ride it is!