Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown

A master of illusion, Dan Brown hits the mark again with Inferno.  All the erudite critics aside, this was a fun and gripping read. I probably could have read it much faster if I didn't sit with a copy of Dante's Inferno, an art history book, and the Citymaps2go app by my side. Call me obsessive, but I need to visualize referenced quotes, paintings, and travels through a city, especially ones that I have visited and loved.

Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, with a gunshot wound to the head and a very bad case of amnesia. He has no idea of how or why he is there. Befriended by Dr. Sienna Brooks, he and she escape the hospital as those in pursuit murder an attending physician. Discovering a small projector that shows Brooks and Langdon an image of the Mappa dell' Inferno, and point to what is a macabre scene. That begins a frantic 24 hours as the two scramble to escape those who are in pursuit and to prevent a catastrophic event from happening. But are they the good guys or the bad guys following them? Running through Florence Italy, the two find secret passage ways and routes through the Pitti PalaceUffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo, and of course the Baptistery of San Giovanni with Ghiberti's incredible bronze doors.   All the while the reader is treated to the history of the city and its marvelous collection of art works. Following a set of clues derived from Dante's Inferno, his death mask, and the painting.
Florence from the Duomo's Bell Dome
The Pitti Palace

Ponte Vecchio and the Arno
The Duomo and Brunelleschi's Dome

Of course, it's not always that simple and Brooks and Langdon are joined by a Dr. Ferris who seems to be in contact with higher powers. He is afflicted with a horrible rash and seems to be suffering breathing difficulties. Could what the are pursuing a type  of plague.

Ghiberti's Doors
San Marco, Venice

 Realizing that they are looking in the wrong place for answer, they are off to Venice before stumbling on the solution to the problem and the resolution of the novel.

It was a whirlwind of a novel that, except for looking at maps, and art would have taken no time to read. Dan Brown may not be the most literate of authors, but he can concoct a tale that maintains the interest of the reader. His books are scripted for films, but that doesn't mean the story is any less exciting. In Inferno the ending is believable and satisfying, more so than the far-fetched stunts at the end of Angels and Demons or The Lost Symbol. They are easy to read and engage the reader in the story. I see nothing wrong with a bit of pure entertainment once in a while.