Inferno is Dan Brown’s latest offering in the thriller/adventure genre. This is the fourth novel featuring the famous Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon as he tries to save his life as well as the world. If you are expecting the Da Vinci type fireworks, then you will be hugely disappointed. The book is good, but it is far from great. The reader will be tested in many places with a narrative that seems quite opposite to gripping. There are long instances of just historical ramblings which anyone with an interest can get from an encyclopaedia. But still, Brown does create some magic in certain places and carries forth a very important message for everyone in this book.
The plot as usual revolves around Langdon and his female good-looking sidekick who only this time will not be always there for his help. We meet Sienna Brooks, a very mysterious but above intelligent woman who befriends Langdon and helps him in unravelling a great mystery. Inferno as in the title, refers to a part of Dante’s epic poem ‘The Divine Comedy’. This book seems like a very long commentary on the Divine Comedy and its connections to other areas of modern art, music and literature. The main agenda for Langdon would be to decodify a very mysterious painting that is left with him, and go to places where it will point to and try to find a cure for a deadly plague that would soon befall humanity if he is not succesful.
It is needless to say that Langdon succeeds in doing this and does it in style with time to spare. But the narrative takes place in some very odd places and the characters seems to be very loosely knit together. For a seasoned reader the events that are about to conspire in the book would be guessable and if you have a keen eye for the kind of stuff that Brown writes that you would have no difficulty in at least guessing a part of the climax.
For a writer of Brown’s stature the book is surely a let down as it seems to be very sloppily written and at places seems as if Brown is trying to show off a bit too much. Nonetheless, this book is a major bestseller and you could give it a try if you have nothing better to do. For the history buff this will be a treat as it is set in Venice and Florence and the climax happens in Istanbul, some of the most historic cities in the world. For the science buff, this book will be terrible as Brown commits mistakes that so many others have committed before him, that is to write about science and math as if they know what they are saying. But the message he intends to put forth with his dabbling in math and science, that of human population growth is an important issue and I hope that every reader of the book is sensitized to this issue.
All in all, the book can be a getaway for a lazy afternoon or evening read, but it’s definitely not the best in Dan Brown. And perhaps its time to retire Robert Langdon to his classes and students.
Author: Dan Brown
Price: Rs. 695