‘The Solomon Scandals’ vs. Dan Brown’s latest, ‘The Lost Symbol’: Same city, different books

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image image Dan Brown’s new bestseller, The Lost Symbol, is a conspiracy novel set in Washington, D.C., just like The Solomon Scandals. Brown even includes a power figure with the last name of Solomon.

If you want to read about a “mystical” Washington”—Brown’s portrayal, as noted by David Plotz in Slate—then buy Symbol.

But if you care or also care for less ethereal conspiracies, The Solomon Scandals might be of interest.

image Sy Solomon the sleazy Washington contractor—invented and named decades before Peter Solomon—is a millionaire ex-bricklayer, with two fingertips missing. He has a penchant for befriending politicians and media people and putting up rickety building that may or may not fall down, including an IRS-and-CIA-related highrise.

The only pyramid in Scandals is in an ancient logo for the General Services Administration, and the style is often satirical rather than solemn. In the end, I’m reminded of two of the laws of library science. “Every reader his book.” And “Every book, its reader.” Definitely. What’s more, I’ll not accuse Brown of a rip-off. I’m 1,000 percent certain that the overlapping names are a coincidence. No conspiracy theories needed, thank you.

Adding to the fun, eons ago in the misty past, after I’d conceived the Solomon character, the real GSA ended up with an administrator named Joel (Jay) Solomon. I left my Sy Solomon with the same last name. I doubted that anyone would have confused him with the Carter Administration appointee from Tennessee, who died in 1984.

Trivia: Symbol almost ended up with the title The Solomon Key.

Note: Updated with more details on Sept. 24, 2009.

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David Rothman

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