Rave reviews as Washington gets the Dan Brown treatment with The Lost Symbol

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An embargo-busting review of the latest Dan Brown blockbuster, which goes on sale tomorrow, suggests that The Lost Symbol could be about to do for Washington what The Da Vinci Code did for Paris and London.

The book sees the return of Brown's Harvard symbiologist Robert Langdon as he dashes around the US Capitol in a 12-hour battle against a tattooed and muscled eunuch. At his side is Dr Katherine Solomon, a Noetic scientist who replaces the cryptographer Sophie Neveu as sidekick and intellectual love interest.

The first review of The Lost Symbol appeared today in The New York Times, entitled "Fasten Your Seat Belts, There's Code to Crack" whch suggests that Dan Brown fans will not be disappointed.

The reviewer, Janet Maslin, says that too many popular authors follow a huge hit with a terrible embarrassment, naming, by way of example, Thomas Harris's Hannibal, follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs.

"Mr Brown hasn’t done that," she said. "Instead, he’s bringing sexy back to a genre that had been left for dead."

If Maslin has indeed jumped the gun with her review - The Bookseller magazine suggested that she had - Brown is unlikely to be complaining too loudly.

It was Maslin's rave review for The Da Vinci Code in 2003 – she compared its appeal to that of the Harry Potter books – which helped send it straight to the top of the bestseller charts. "People called and said, 'Is Janet Maslin your mother, because she never says stuff like that'," Brown later told an interviewer.

That novel, which follows Langdon as the murder of a curator at the Louvre precipitates him into a mystery involving the possibility that Jesus Christ fathered a child with Mary Magdalene, helped Brown break through into the major league. It has since sold more than 80 million copies in 44 languages...

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