Nobody can pull off Dan Brown's well-worn Da Vinci Code formula for treasure-hunt thrills anymore—except Dan Brown, Janet Maslin writes in the New York Times. Brown's new book The Lost Symbol, hitting bookstores tomorrow, "clicks even if at first it looks dangerously like a clone," packing in the "neat tricks" and "guilty pleasures" that are Brown's forte.
DC takes the place of Paris for symbologist Robert Langdon's latest "rip-snorting adventure:" there's a symbol-covered severed hand in the Capitol building, a "stereotypically sinister" Freemason baddie, and a love interest with an obscure scientific specialty: noetics, or mind-body connections. There's also a giant squid. At the end of all the sleuthing through conspiracies, "Mr. Brown’s sweet optimism ... may amaze his readers most."