At the Pursuitist, we don’t do lots of book reviews. There are simply so many places that do them. Sometimes, however, we find something we just want to share – and we give you the review. Other times – like what follows – we’ve had requests for this – so, voila, you got it.

Dan Brown, for those who live under a rock, is the author of the mega-seller The Da Vinci Code. We liked the Da Vinci Code. It was fun. The plot breezed along, the history was intriguing (if a bit silly), and there was a nice big payoff at the end. And the masses have been waiting for the follow up – and it finally arrived earlier this month.

Brown’s long-awaited novel, The Lost Symbol, again features his tweed clad hero, Robert Langdon. Langdon is thrust into the secret world of the Masons, as he has to uncover a hidden secret in order to save the life of his friend. It’s typical Dan Brown – narrow escapes, lots of history, lots of cardboard characters (we say that with love). So, is is any good, you ask?

Our answer – meh. Not really. Not bad. Certainly not terrible. Just – okay. For many writers, it would be fine, but for Brown, it’s a disappointment.

Here’s the good and the bad about The Last Word.

The Good. It’s a great tour of famous architecture throughout Washington, DC. It made me want to visit – to learn more about the nation’s history and the people who formed the United States. I also learned a lot about Freemasonry. Good things. The book doesn’t treat the Masons as some freaky religion – but actually shows respect and admiration for what they do. Finally, the book was a passable thriller – predictable, but intriguing enough to want to turn the page.

The Bad. Some terribly one-note characters. Really stupid decisions – the kind of things that would end the book if someone just made the logical decision (of course they don’t, which means it goes on). Speaking of going on – it’s too long. Brown is such a powerful writer, it appears no one is brave enough to actually edit his book (sort of like JK Rowling in Goblet of Fire). We have bad dialogue and repetitive scenes. There’s also a lack of urgency in the proceedings – yes, a man will die if Langdon fails, but you don’t get the feeling that there’s more at stake (even though we are told there’s lots at stake on many occasions). Finally, the ending just didn’t pay off like you wanted.

All in all, a mixed bag. If you really are interested in American history and Freemasonry, I’d say pick up The Last Word. There’s enough to keep you interested. If not, save your time and find something else.