As a true lover of Dante’s Divine Comedy, I must confess that Brown’s choice of inspiration for his fourth Langdon novel hit just the right spot for me. While some readers may be bored by his lengthy descriptions of Dante’s cantos on the odyssey from Inferno and Purgatory to Paradise, I wanted more. Some readers may find his near tour-guide-style descriptions of Florence and Istanbul to be a divergence from the plot, but I was entranced and nearly salivating at the chance to visit those cities myself. Some readers might be bored by Brown’s extensive philosophizing over whether 18th century doomsday cleric Thomas Malthus was right in comparing humans to overly-fecund rabbits, but I found the premise that humanity is racing towards its own extinction interesting. For those of you who enjoy high-octane chase scenes, mysterious villains, and threats of biological disaster, Inferno has it all.
Harvard professor Robert Langdon is once more dragged into a Europe-centered mystery of world-shattering proportions, where art, architecture, literature and science all hold clues to preventing a global cataclysm, and his arcane knowledge matched with the tough smarts of a beautiful and mysterious woman are called upon to save the day. If this sounds similar to all of Brown’s Langdon novels, you’re absolutely right and if this irritates you, don’t read Inferno. But if you don’t care and prefer to enjoy the sheer entertainment of it all, with the added bonus of some gorgeous site-seeing tours and some controversial ethical questions thrown in, then you’ll have a blast.
Langdon begins the novel as a total amnesiac waking up in a hospital somewhere in Florence, Italy, with terrifying nightmares, a bullet wound to the head and someone apparently still trying to kill him. A lovely young doctor with a unique history helps him escape the assassin, and they go on the run from what appears to be a mysterious criminal mastermind with unlimited resources at his disposal. Langdon must stay alive long enough to regain his memories and figure out why he is a target, and once he does, must stop a madman from destroying civilization. A good weekend’s entertainment, even if I did totally disagree with the