Dan Brown gets an awful lot of stick, doesn’t he? After The Lost Symbol, I was one of the grumblers, complaining that he couldn’t write for toffee and that he wasted no opportunity to show us how clever he was and how much research he did. I vowed never to read another Dan Brown book.
Then I discovered that his new book was based on Dante’s Inferno and set in Florence, my holiday destination this year. Well, I kind of had to read it, didn’t I?
And I’m so glad I did.
Inferno is the fourth book to feature symbologist Robert Langdon and opens with our hero waking up in a hospital room with no recollection of how he got there. Langdon is soon under attack from assassins unknown and, with the help of the young doctor who was attending to him, he begins on a race across Florence, Venice and Istanbul in an attempt to prevent a deadly plague.
Brown’s hallmarks are evident: hidden meanings, the mix of science and great art, villains from the present using the art of the past to justify nefarious deeds, and characters not always being as they appear. Yes, the author does a lot of ‘information dumping’; yes, the prose isn’t beautifully written. But you know what? Brown is back to his page-turning best. He does tell a good story, however clumsily and fantastic, and his trade mark short chapters make you think ‘just one more’ time and again until the birds begin to herald dawn.
Dan, I know it’s fashionable to dismiss your books as trash but I’ll forgive you The Lost Symbol so long as you keep Langdon in Europe, doing what he does best.