Dan Brown - the lost symbol

We've all been waiting for this for a while - and now I've finished it, I thought I'd give you my thoughts. Firstly, lets remember this isnt aimed at people who normally read books. This is aimed squarely at supermarket book buyers, people who buy one book a year for their holidays, and so forth. Indeed, Tescos here in the UK has it for £7, some £10 down on list price - on its opening weekend. And I suspect its been through lots and lots of focus groups - and the target audience said 'Keep it simple!'. Even Simpler than the Da Vinci code ? Probably.

(Personally, I hate the idea of focus groups. If I read a book, I want the writer to have the courage to express his views and surprise us. This is why I buy his book. I'm not like some middle-America fundamentialist or extremist who only belives things that I only believe in. I want to be pushed, to experience new ideas. Feeding anything through the focus group 'blender' process to end up with some bland, homogeonised pap is not what I'm interested in. Or put another way. I like Food, I dont like McDonalds. I like my food to surprise me, not reinforce my own bland expectations. )

This book has over 100 chapters - some as short as one page. So easy to keep track of. There's only one huge twist in the tale, really, and I dont think I'm spoiling it much to say that its telegraphed from its inception point. You dont have to be Le Carre to figure out this one.

It trundles on (and on), yet another false conclusion after another, yet another final curtain. Incredibly smart secret service people who suddenly become stupid, secretive masonic grand masters who suddendly want to spill the beans, mastermind criminial geniuses who stay far far too long at crime scenes, etc..

Dont set huge expectations, put aside a few hours and learn to skim read through the more tedious bits and its a good enough potboiler. In other words, he's succeeded, and we can yet again see Tom Hanks, sacrificing integrity for money and delivering such wooden lines as "To the Library!" (Da Vinci Code) or "Get me a map showing all the churches in Rome!" (Angels and Demons - at this point. my wife whispered to me 'There's probably an App for that!' and I fountained Diet Coke over the folks in front of me). I havent figured out the wooden line yet, but its probably something like 'To the Library of Congress!'. God. And no doubt, I'll spend money and watch *that* movie too.

He's very sympathetic to the Masonic movement (it reads like a pro-Masonic leaflet at times), and it does read like a travelogue of Washington DC. I can picture tourists doing the 'Dan Brown' tour of DC sometime next week. The introduction of Noetics almost made me shut the book there and then -so badly was this hokum introduced. And the ending - dragged out over numerous short chapters, really doesnt give us a punchline (and I'm not going to spoil it for you).

So yeah. I guess you have to read it. Dont get your expectations up and be prepared to snort a few times in derision. But hey, it has a nice cover.