Hardcover: $20.36, 658 pages, Anchor (2009)
Paperback: $12.67, 624 pages, Anchor (2012)
Audiobook: $12, 18 hours, Random House Audio (2009)
Random House LLC
9781400079148 — Paperback
9780375434525 — Paperback
9780307950680 — Paperback
9780385533829 — Hardcover
9780385533836 — Paperback
9780593054277 — Hardcover
978-0739319178 — Audiobook
Robert Langdon has been drawn into a mystery by his mentor in Washington D.C.
Robert Langdon receives a call and text from his old friend and mentor Peter Solomon (a 33rd degree Mason) saying he needs to come to Washington D.C. that night and do a speech. He rushes to board the private plane to help his friend, bringing with him a mysterious package Peter had given to him years ago. When he arrives he discovers there is no lecture, there was no assistant and that his friend’s mutilated hand has been put on display in the Capitol Rotunda.
The evil Mal’akh has been planning and waiting for this night for a long time. He is a master of disguise and snuck in to plant the hand in the Rotunda before escaping. He had already disguised himself as a Doctor Abbadon earlier in the day and talked to Peter’s sister Katherine, convincing her she was her brother’s therapist and that he was concerned for him.
The Capitol security come to contain the situation in the Rotunda and the head of the CIA’s Office of Security Sato shows up to take over. With the security chief and Sato, Langdon deciphers the markings on his friend’s severed hand and they head to the sub basement for the next clue. They discover a Masonic pyramid minus capstone in the sub basement office. Sato confronts Langdon about what’s in his bag, but Langdon escapes with the help of Warren Bellamy to the Library of Congress.
Mal’akh convinces Katherine to invite him to her secret Noetics lab in Pod 5 of the Smithsonian. He murders her assistant, tries to murder Katherine and then blows up her lab. Katherine escapes and heads to rendezvous with Langdon.
Mal’akh has connections to the Solomons. He was with Peter’s son (the black sheep Zachary) in a Turkish prison and arranged to have him killed. He then murdered Peter and Katherine’s mother. He spent the years between then and now researching and tattooing himself in preparation of this night.
Katherine meets up with Langdon and Bellamy at the library. Katherine and Langdon escape via conveyor belt. They then hop a cab. They trick the CIA into thinking their going to Alexandria but they go elsewhere. They figure out most of the pyramid before being captured by the CIA.
They learn that Peter is “fine” at home and safe and the CIA thinks that Mal’akh is headed elsewhere. Katherine and Langdon are captured at Mal’akh’s home. Langdon is made to think he’s going to drown and Katherine is almost bled out, they reveal all the secrets of the pyramid to Mal’akh. They are both rescued by the CIA.
Mal’akh turns out to be Zachary Solomon (he faked his death), he threatens to expose government officials doing a Masonic ritual and tries to get his father to murder him. The CIA arrive and stop everything, though Zachary gets killed in the process.
The secret ends up being a bible in the cornerstone of the Washington Monument.
I hated this book. Every minute of it. This book is full of cliches, stuffed full of “facts,” is written with an air of haughty smugness from the author (see how much I know, how much smarter than you I am?), is full of unlikable (and stupid for all their “brilliance”) characters and so many plot twists that the plot is barely discernible. It just seemed like the whole time Dan Brown was sitting behind a keyboard thinking “how can I show these people how much more I know than them?” This book is stuffed full of stuff. So many references to different items, places, “history,” religion, conspiracy, and “information” that any plot can get sidelined by Brown telling the audience about some painting or thing that used to be in a building or the history of Shriners (which wasn’t even important!). I have so many negative feelings about this book, I’m going to try to repress them from here on.
The plot was overall simple: stop the bad guy from doing the thing, but all the little details and side plots really convoluted it all. The characters were all pretty three dimensional. We got all sorts of details about every thing in their lives that even remotely related to the “mystery.” We could really get a feel for them, but they all were really stupid during the whole of the plot. (Katherine, if you know your brother doesn’t know how to text and that you’re doing secret research that only three people should know, why do you think its him texting you and telling you to let this guy you didn’t even know existed until earlier that day in to your super secret lab? Why does Langdon trust and then distrust every person he encounters? Doesn’t anyone know that you don’t tell the bad guy threatening you anything? He’s going to kill you anyway, why give him what he wants?)
This clearly works for its intended audience. The people who loved the DaVinci Code picked this up, stuck with it and then went on to the next book in the series. Its relatively entertaining if you can turn off your brain and deal with the sheer amount of STUFF.
Oh I think there are a lot of flaws with this book. Supposedly smart people acting stupid in situations they shouldn’t be, an over-the-top bad guy, science/magic, ALL THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES!!!!, the muddled story, the stupid chapter endings where he makes you wait two pages (aka another chapter) for the STUNNING REALIZATION, the tiny chapters, and the crazy coincidences. Its all so much. Too much.
If I were to be facetious I’d say a good alternate title would be: ALL THE CONSPIRACIES ARE REAL! but I’m not being facetious. Perhaps: The Mystery’s Key, or something.
I would never replace a book with this book.
On a good note, because everything should end on a good note, the audio book was actually pretty well done. I hated the book, and wasn’t too fond of the narrator’s “woman” voice, but for the most part it was a really good rendition of the book.
Suspense and Thriller
The Camel Club by David Baldacci
The Devil Colony by James Rollins
The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry
There is no significance to this book. Its not the first of its kind, or unique or worthy of distinction. The characters aren’t unusual and the setting’s been used before.
Book Discussion Questions and Ideas
Could science ever reach the point that it seems like magic?
Discuss conspiracy theories around Masons and ponder their truth.
What sort of conspiracies would you have liked to have seen involved in the story?
Which character had the correct idea?
Was the fastest selling adult novel (2009), New York Times Best Seller.
Why I Chose It
It was picked for class by another group, but it was a thriller and I probably thought I should not judge Dan Brown without reading him.