Will Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' Surpass 'The Da Vinci Code?'

According to LA Times' Nick Owchar, Langdon, on a mission to find a "legendary Masonic treasure," solves countless "puzzles, analyzes paintings and reveals forgotten heroes." All this even while he is chased by "special ops squads" and a "bizarre killer" kidnaps his longtime mentor, Peter Solomon.

Owchar, who didn't disclose how he obtained his embargo-breaking copy of the book, describes the opening scene in "The Lost Symbol" to be as dramatic and bizarre as that of "The Da Vinci Code."

Langdon, according to Owchar, arrives at the Capitol building under the guise that he is to give a speech, only to find a "severed hand marked with Masonic tattoos."

The villain in the novel, the same person who presumably led Langdon to the Capitol, is Mal'akh, which means "angel" in Hebrew, according to Owchar.

"The reason we read Dan Brown is to see what happens to Langdon: We want to know if he will overcome slim odds to uncover Mal'akh's motives and a cunning plan that, while not involving a vial of antimatter, is a major threat to national security," writes Owchar.

Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" Destined For Success

While the information fans knew before today was scarce if not confusing, retailers are confident that "The Lost Symbol" will garner as much fame as its forerunners did.

"He creates just a wonderful puzzle in the kind of array of topics that people find captivating," said Barnes and Noble's Bostelman.

The secrecy around "The Lost Symbol" has of course helped feed the frenzy around the book's release. Bostelman said that "tens of thousands" or pre-orders were placed by customers for the book.

Similarly, "The Lost Symbol" has spent 148 days in the top 100 list of bestsellers on Amazon.com as of yesterday.

Jane Dystel, the president of literary agency Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in New York City, said that while Brown's writing style might not be all that impressive, his ability to engage his audience is.

"He's not Shakespeare, but who cares?" said Dystel. "He tells a great story."

Dystel said that she's happy Brown's book is getting customers back into bookstores, one of many businesses that have been hurt by the recession.

"I'm very excited," said Dystel. "Brown is going to bring a lot of people in [to stores}."

"I think this book will be enormously successful," she added.

Louisa Ermelino, the book review editor at Publisher's Weekly, said the mystery in the plots is what attracts readers.

"It's a puzzle and everyone loves a puzzle," said Ermelino. "It's that mystery and that insider feeling."

"When people read "The Da Vinci Code" everyone was talking about it," said Ermelino. "He sold 81 million copies and so now naturally everyone is waiting for that to happen again."

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