This book is designed to appeal to fans of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels, particularly The Lost Symbol (2009). Beyer explores some of the book’s codes, puzzles, and historical references. Although he does raise some interesting questions—how does The Lost Symbol’s original title, The Solomon Key, help us to understand the meaning and importance of one of the book’s characters?—he also spends a lot of time on matters peripheral to his theme. Why, for example, in a book that is presumably being read by someone who is intimately familiar with Brown’s novels and their hero, Robert Langdon, would the author devote nearly 2 full pages to a physical description of the character and an explanation of what he does for a living? Similarly, the author’s lengthy travelogue-like description of The Lost Symbol’s setting, Washington, D.C., could be replaced by a simple list of elements from the Brown novel that actually exist in Washington, freeing up 30-odd pages for meatier pursuits. Recommended for readers who can’t get enough of Brown and Langdon, but for a better—and much more entertaining—exploration of Brown’s techniques, try The Va Dinci Cod (2005), the hilarious Da Vinci Code parody written by A. R. R. R. Roberts (otherwise known as Adam Roberts).
This review originally appeared in Booklist, December 2009.