25 May 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown (2013)

Dan Brown ups the ante in his latest thriller Inferno. While he remains a pretty horrible novelist, he does love to write about ancient cities, and creates a travelogue of places, buildings and people. To be honest, as a Rick Steves , he’s not bad (and if the city of Florence was smart, they figure out how to boost tourism with this book). But his tales are nutty and while this time we get no attacks on Christianity or the Vatican or the Freemasons that seem to running Washington D.C., we get a premise more or less set in the world of James Bond. 

Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon is back and this time he (and the reader) are dropped into the middle of Florence, where not only do we get his typical short chapters (which I admit kept me turning the page, because they generally ended on a cliffhanger) but we get a semester’s worth history, art and architecture lectures.

Inferno has Langdon regaining consciousness in a hospital room in Florence. He has no idea how he got there, because as far as he remember, he was in New York. And while a head wound explains his short term memory issues –he was told by a doctor that he was grazed in the head by a bullet- he seems more upset he that his highly collectable Mickey Mouse watch is gone, as well as his expensive British clothes (oh, the world problems of the 1%).

But explanations get abruptly cut off, as a killer (the one who apparently took a pot-shot at Langdon) returns to finish the job, only a Doctor named Sienna Brooks quickly pulls the professor out of that fire and into an adventure across Europe that pits Langdon against a brilliant genetic engineer who, using cryptic messages from Dante’s Inferno, plans to release a plague onto the world –because like any super villain from the pages of James Bond and his imitators- the trap that is set has to be overtly elaborate and silly.

While there is much more here, Brown’s clunky dialogue and ham-fisted set pieces remain. And Langdon and company do many stupid things that would seem to indicate that everyone in Dan Brown’s universe are pretty gullible folks who don’t ask the right and very obvious questions and who has friends who –even as they lie dying- need to leave even more cryptic messages instead of…you know…just saying what the mean.

Man, your dying, what’s with coded words?

While the book should do well, and as I chide myself for reading a fourth book about this Robert Langdon character, I ponder if anyone really actually believes all the malarkey that jumps from the pages –and thus, the demented mind- of Dan Brown’s Inferno

I sure don’t.

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