Inferno, the fourth novel by Dan Brown, once again features Harvard University symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon. It follows on from Angels and Demons, the amazingly successful blockbuster The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, and continues in the thriller genre that Brown has become known for.
This time our protagonist, the Harris Tweed clad Langdon wakes up in hospital with mild amnesia and is saved by the stereotypical blonde and beautiful Dr Sienna Brooks, once a child prodigy, who helps him to escape an assassin. The villain of the piece is geneticist Bertrand Zobrist, who believes that the Earth is nearing Doomsday population overload, when resources will finally run out and people will begin to behave like those in Dante’s Inferno.
The reader is taken on an impulsive quest, mainly through the cities of Florence and Venice then onto Istanbul, following Langdon and Brooks’ journey as they encounter clues and decipher codes and symbols.
The novel is more of a fast-paced scavenger hunt than a thriller and I personally thought that there was too much information and detail about the works of art, the buildings and the scenery of the European cities that featured. It seemed sometimes to be more of a tourist guide and an art history lesson than a novel. There is no doubt that Brown has brought about a new interest in Dante’s work, the 14th century epic poem Divine Comedy that follows an allegorical journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven of which Inferno is part one, but his seemingly full blown academic analysis sometimes veers off, with his interpretation occasionally blurring fact with fiction. Although there are several unexpected twists towards the end, the novel seems a little bit predictable and my attention waned several times but, nonetheless, it was a good fun read.
Tom Hanks is reuniting with director Ron Howard to reprise his role as Dr. Langdon for the film, expected to be released in December 2015, which means that the third novel in the quartet, The Lost Symbol, is the only one not to have made it to the big screen. This, apparently, is because the director pulled out of the project.
So has Dr. Robert Langdon come to the end of his shelf life? Perhaps in a few years’ time there will there be another novel, set in a different city, with another conspiracy theory that sees Langdon chasing around, combating evil by deciphering clues found in great works of art!