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The Lost Symbol

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09.11.04

Waiting for The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown’s latest blockbuster, “The Lost Symbol”, shows every sign of generating the same public fascination with themes of conspiracy, secret societies and rituals that “The Da Vinci Code” did.  All six print copies in the Library’s collection have a waiting list of readers eager to take a whirlwind ride with symbologist Robert Langdon.

So what is a reader whose heart is set on reading this book to do until his turn arrives?
Take heart, dear reader.  Dan Brown may know a thing or two about writing an entertaining page turner, but he certainly is not the first or only one to do so.  There is an entire genre devoted to thrilling heroes seeking to uncover conspiracies, to break codes and ciphers to discover hidden treasure and find the rightful heirs before the enemy beats them to it.

“Daughter of God” by Lewis Perdue tells a story so similar to “The Da Vinci Code” that Brown was accused of plagiarizing it.

Steve Berry has written a series of thrillers starring Cotton Malone, former secret agent for the U.S. Justice Department, delving into ancient treasures and mysteries.  In “The Charlemagne Pursuit”, a mysterious manuscript discovered in the tomb of Charlemagne sends Cotton on a dangerous international quest from an ancient German cathedral to the harsh Antarctic chasing the truth about the death of his father on a classified sub mission beneath the Antarctic.  Also try “The Templar Legacy”, “The Venetian Betrayal”, and “The Alexandria Link”.

The Charlegmagne concept also figures into Katherine Neville’s “The Eight”.  Here, eighteenth century novices and a 1970s computer wiz search ciphers and clues to locate the pieces of Charlemagne’s chess set that possess enormous powers.  The sequel is “The Fire”.

In “The Rule of Four”, two Ivy League students search for the location of a treasure-filled crypt which has been hidden in a cipher within the pages of an obscure Renaissance manuscript.  This brilliant tale by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery.

Receiving a mysterious box from her eccentric mentor, who claims it contains a newly found work by Shakespeare, theater director and scholar Kate Shelton is horrified when her theater is burned to the ground and her mentor killed in “Interred with Their Bones” by Jennifer Lee Carrell.

The lost literature of Shakespeare is also the theme of “The Book of Air and Shadows” by Michael Gruber.  Another by Gruber is “The Forgery of Venus”.  Lost literature and lost writers make for a very mysterious experience in “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Several thrillers by Raymond Khoury should appeal to Dan Brown readers.  In “The Last Templar”, an archaeologist discovers that a missing ancient decoder is linked to the Knights Templar, and together with the help of a FBI agent, tries to find the stolen artifact before it falls into the wrong hands.  More than 250 years after a pretender marquis escapes the palazzo of his vengeful prince, an American Army unit discovers a secret lab in Baghdad where victims have been subjected to torturous experiments, a finding that places two women on the trail of an ancient mystery in “The Sanctuary”.  Khoury’s latest is “The Sign”.  In this gripping thriller, a scientific expedition in Antarctica stops for a live news feed. As the CNN journalist Gracie Logan begins her report, a massive, shimmering sphere of light suddenly appears in the sky, enveloping the ship in luminous white light before disappearing as mysteriously as it arrived--the entire event witnessed by an incredulous world audience. Meanwhile, a monk in Egypt experiences visions that seemed connected, and back in Boston, Matt Sherwood learns that his brother's death may have been actually murder related to this erupting worldwide controversy over the meaning of this "sign" in the sky.

Kate Mosse’s “Labyrinth” weaves elements of religion, archaeology, and setting found in “The Da Vinci Code”.  In 2005, Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons and a labyrinth pattern engraved on the wall and on a ring hidden in a cave while on an archeological dig in southwest France. They trigger visions of the past and propel her into a dangerous race against those who want the mystery of the cave for themselves. In 1209 Alaïs is entrusted, by her father, with a book that is part of a sacred trilogy connected to the Holy Grail. Guardians of the trilogy are operating against evil forces.

Other writers include Matt Bondurant, Umberto Eco, Linda A. Fairstein, Thomas Gifford, Lev Grossman, David Hewson, Enrique Joven, Matthew Pearl, Iain Pears, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Douglas Preston, James Rollins, Richard Sapir, and Daniel Silva.

Many more thrillers revolve around ancient treasure, history, art, religion, science, puzzles, ciphers, and manuscripts.  For more reading suggestions, visit the Library at www.tcplweb.org or call 988-2541.  “The Lost Symbol” can wait!

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