Dan Brown's latest conspiracy theory novel, The Lost Phallus, has the hero Robert Langdon chasing penises. The book is true to the spirit of his first two novels, Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons where the Professor uncovered the mysteries of secret sects using his genius for decoding symbols. The plot is hair-raising and has Langdon alternately being chased or obstructed by nutters who are determined to keep their phalluses to themselves.
In the latest novel the plot revolves around the symbols not of religion but of government and commerce. The Washington Monument is central to Langdon's 'penis obsession' but The Eiffel Tower and Taipei 101 also play big parts in the proceedings. Langdon believes that the leading world powers were actually established by sex-mad political leaders who all signed up to the notion that "Power is the best aphrodisiac." He also thinks that early mystics hid clues to facts that would blow apart our understanding of reproduction.... and that they hid those clues in famous monuments.
Naturally Langdon is seen as a meddler by the phallocentric 'keepers of the secrets of reproduction' and they send a crazed scientist called Dawkins to get him. Dawkins will do absolutely anything to protect the truth. However, once Langdon has got the 'bit between his teeth', there's no stopping him and before long he starts seeing penises everywhere - even in his breakfast cereal.
The story ends dramatically with a giant gorilla climbing the Washington Monument, holding the Professor's 'female helper' Fay Wray in his sweaty palm. This is seen as a symbol of the repressed sexuality of the political classes. Meanwhile Dawkins is dispatched whilst trying to beat Langdon at a game of 'advanced symbology'. And Langdon's friend Professor Derrida claims that "The inner truth of gender is a fabrication." Nobody knows what he means by this. But it appears to do the trick, and the world's politicians soon come together and promise to be more transparent in future about their 'sexual relations' with 'those interns' etc.
The drama ends memorably with the symbologist Langdon raising aloft a large dildo and stating: "I have at long last got to grips with this sacred object."