Saturday, May 25, 2013


by Rick Steves  Dan Brown
May 21, 2013

Dan Brown's books are like a big old McDonald's cheeseburger.  There's nothing about a big Quarter Pounder with cheese that could be called delicious. It's not gourmet, it's obviously hasn't been cooked and prepared by a real chef.  But sometimes it hits the spot. It's hard to explain, but sometimes it's just what you want.   Why does McDonalds sell billions of hamburgers?  Probably the same reason that Dan Brown sells millions of books.  

I liked Inferno. I liked it better than his last book, The Lost Symbol, his paean to goopy theology; (The Almighty God in Genesis was described not as One...but as Many. God is plural... because the minds of man are plural.)   It is even more of a travelogue and treasure hunt than his other books. I hesitate to say that it is a history lesson because I know that Dan Brown has a little trouble with historical accuracy. And I'm not talking about the whole Mary Magdalene thing.

So, I liked the book. I enjoyed it. I wasn't prepared to say that it was his worst. But after reading the negative reviews on Amazon, I realize that maybe it is.  Dan Brown's books tend to sound a little like term papers for an art history class. This book is a lot like a guide book to Florence, Italy.  If you removed all of the detailed description of every room in every church or museum featured, you'd have a novella.  I think that the reason I enjoyed  the travelogue is the setting: Florence and Venice.  I've been to both cities and to many of the places he describes. That was a lot of fun.  I also liked the "treasure hunt", which I think is Dan Brown's strong suit.

Of course there's a message in the book. Brown has finally left the Church and God alone and has taken up the case of  world overpopulation.  The villain has hidden a sort of bio-bomb something that will release a plague that could potentially wipe out millions of people. 
Inexplicably, the villain has also left cryptic clues to the location of the thing. Langdon and, of course, the beautiful young scientist (well, doctor, in this case) race through Italy narrowly escaping the police, a spike-haired assassin, a helicopter drone and all manner of bad guys.     

The one thing that really made me roll my eyes was the plot twist near the end of the book. A little too twisted to be plausible.

In all, I had fun reading Inferno. It was everything I've come to expect from Dan Brown.   

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