The Lost Plot Revisited

As Dan Brown’s new book hits the bookshelves I reckon it’s time to re-blog the piece I wrote when his last book came out in 2009 …..

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Professor Robert Langdon stared at the rows of small tablets arranged before him, each with a letter, symbol or number engraved thereon.

Katherine Solomon, his third girlfriend in as many books, watched on in admiration, taking in his firm jawline, taut biceps and magnificent physique – so typical of a, well, historian.

Langdon studied the tablets, occasionally carefully pressing one in an order pre-ordained long ago. At the end he chose one with the enticing and thrilling inscription “Enter”, tapped it delicately, and Google found the website he was looking for.

“Got it!” he exclaimed proudly. Katherine sighed with suppressed desire. She would have run her fingers through his wiry hair and suggested they go someplace private, but the chapters in the book were too short for stuff like that.

“See what I’ve found?” he said. Katherine stared at the computer screen in front of them. At the top it had the words “Worth Doing Badly”. In the article below a man seemed to be telling the World-at-Large some story about Mary Poppins, in the optimistic and mistaken belief that the W-at-L would find this interesting.

“Er, it’s a blog,” she said.

Langdon was impressed. “Oh, you’ve heard of them,” he said. “It is indeed a blog, from the old Sumatran word ‘bellock’, meaning short message.”

“Really?” said Katherine, “I thought it was short for ‘Weblog’.”

“A lot of people make that mistake,” said Langdon. “Thomas Jefferson, one of the first and greatest Freemasons, was actually the first to use a Bellock. Indeed, he wrote under the pen-name ‘Hilaire Belloc’, meaning ‘short witty message’. He used to write mostly in limericks.”

Katherine, who was fairly certain that Belloc had been a real person, felt the first tiny seeds of doubt.

“Anyway,” said Langdon, “these ‘blogs’ are now hiding among all the other websites on the Internet. They are the main method of communication of one of the oldest and most secret societies on earth – the Geeks, founders of modern civilisation.”

“Wasn’t that the Greeks?”

“Alas, what damage can be done by a simple misspelling. Most people think they know of Ancient Greece, but in fact the country was called Geece.”

“You’re kidding,” said Katherine, who was beginning to understand why Robert’s previous two girlfriends had left him.

“Indeed not,” said Langdon. “The Geeks were once the most powerful and knowledgeable race on the planet. Then all the other major civilisations – the Romans, the Spartans, the Preposterons, the Madeupnames – joined forces against them, and they were driven underground. But they have remained a secret society all these years. It is rumoured that their mantra is ‘the Geek shall inherit the Earth’. They conspire all the time to rule the world again.”

“Isn’t that a bit far-fetched?”

“Is it? Compared to a man being the Son of God? Compared to Re-incarnation? Compared to Santa Claus?”

“Er, I don’t think anyone actually believes in Santa,” muttered Katherine, but Langdon wasn’t listening.

“Unfortunately for them, I am on their trail, and now I have found the Blog of their leader.”

Katherine stared at the blog again. “This guy’s their leader?” she said dubiously. “He comes across as an idiot.”

“Only because you can’t read his Blog as I can,” said Langdon. “The signs are all there, as clear as DaVinci predicting the Television by putting one in the Last Supper (Editor’s Note: have a look, it’s right there at the front). Look, for example, at the first symbol in the Blog’s title.”

“The ‘W’?”

You see a W. I see a Spider – symbol of deceit – upside down.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Need I remind you that I found this site on the Web.

Katherine could feel the beginnings of a headache. Also she was starting to notice that his jawline wasn’t really that firm, his biceps that taut, or his physique that magnificent.

“And that’s not the only clue,” said Langdon. “Hidden inside the third word, visible only to a Scholar such as myself, is the word “Bad”, often used as another word for evil.”

Katherine made a sound that can best be shown in print as “!”

“And the final proof,” said Langdon smugly, “is the name this man has chosen. He has selected “Tinman”, from the Ancient Myth Of the Oz Wizard. The “Tinman”, according to the legend, had no heart, and therefore was not human at all. Clearly our Tinman sees himself as a god.”

Ah, for fuck’s sake,” thought Katherine, looking around for her coat.

“Not only that,” continued Langdon, as only he could, “he has added two symbols to the end of his name – a 1 and an 8. Not a lot of people know this, but if you add 1 and 8 you get 9, and an inverted 9 is a 6, and 666 is the Number of the Beast.”

Unnoticed behind him, the sound of clacking high-heels grew more and more distant. Katherine had accepted that her spinsterhood had a while to run yet.

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Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in a quiet room which he had entered via a Portal (or door, as they called it in Ireland), Tinman read the last page of the new Dan Brown book, sighed a deep, deep sigh, and rubbed his hands over his steely, piercing eyes (sorry, the writing’s infectious).

His head felt as if someone had syringed the StayPuft Marshmallow Man into it through his left ear.

His mind was stuffed to capacity with symbolism, symbols, and cymbals (he had distinctly heard the sound “B’dum, tish” in his brain everytime Langdon had solved yet another mystery).

He knew that they were going to remain there until he could blot them out by reading another book.

He had to get to a Library – fast.

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