We were very keen to read Inferno – the latest book by suspense thriller writer – Dan Brown since long. But we don’t like to present an article without going thoroughly through the book. Finally, we are able to do so and here are our personal reviews for this book.
|Corgi (5 May 2014)
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Inferno by Dan Brown features fourth outing of Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon in the world where myth and reality fuse. It is a familiar turf for Mr. Brown, similar to Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. Like the former two, it is set up in Europe. In a dramatic opening we find Langdon in a hospital in Florence, recovering from a head wound with no recollection of when he left US or what he is doing in Europe. Yes, he is suffering from Amnesia and his doctors, including, pretty blonde Sienna Brookes are as baffled as he is.
Enter the assassin Vayentha, killing the doctor in charge and marching in Robert’s room. Sienna manages to get him out and the chase begins. By instinct, they seek shelter in Sienna’s flat, where they discover that Langdon is in possession of a steel container with a bio-hazard sign on it. Soon, Vayentha and a very deadly looking professional armed team track them.
Is the US government trying to kill Langdon? Why?
The only clue they have so far is the container. Instead of a deadly virus, it actually contains a piece of art – a bone cylinder with a three headed devil embossed on it. It is a hi-tech laser projector that displays a modified version of Botticelli‘s “Map of Hell” with an inscription “The truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death.” Robert thinks the painting might help him remembering and together they head towards the Old City.
On the run, Robert realizes that the “Map of Hell” on his projector is a modified version. The clue lying in this modification is “CERCA TROVA” – “Seek and You shall find”. The words bring back echoes of his strange visions in hospital. These are also the words etched on the painting “The Battle of Marciano” by Vasari located in art museum called the Palazzo Vecchio. They dodge the cordoning police and sneak into the city through Vasari corridor and then the museum.
Next stroke of luck comes in form of Marta Alvarez, director of the museum. As per her, Robert had visited the museum on previous night with Ignazio Busoni. She finds Roberts behaviour this morning a bit eccentric but takes him to the chamber where Dante’s Death mask is kept. They are all shocked however to discover that the priceless mask has disappeared. They go through security footage in presence of Robert and Sienna only to see Robert stealing the mask. The guards call police and fuming Marta calls Ignazio’s office – only to learn that he died last night. His dying message for Robert was “Paradise 25”.
Robert and Sienna once again escape and continue their quest. They find the death mask and a riddle on back of it. They learn about its current owner, a billionaire geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist, who pitched for regulation of human population on this planet. He comitted suicide a week ago, but was he successful in creating a deadly weapon while he was alive? Did he leave a time-bomb behind him that’s ticking as Robert and Sienna desperately search for clues?
At last, Robert is captured but Sienna escapes. Robert meets Dr Elizabeth Sinskey, the director-general of the WHO. She claims that he was working for her but after last night stopped communicating.
And Sienna, where did she come in the picture?
Whether she is a friend or a foe?
Some more chasing and brainstorming on Robert’s part brings them to Turkey. Are they in time?
After the phenomenal success of the “Da Vinci Code”, Dan Brown‘s books have enjoyed eager anticipation and brilliant marketing beforehand. This book was no exception. Its first chapter was published with free e-book of “Da Vinci Code” in 2013 and the official book trailer was launched on Youtube. The book was translated and released simultaneously in French, Russian, Turkish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. In spite of the publicity, it could not mirror the commercial success of the Da Vinci Code, neither could win much critical acclaim. However, Tom Hanks will continue being our cinematic Robert Langdon, as Sony Pictures are planing to bring this story on silver screen by end of 2015.
The problem with most Dan Brown books is the pace – as he goes on lovingly describing each peace of art on the way, he loses the grip on narrative. The only exception is “Da Vinci Code” where he could manage to keep the story moving. “Inferno” suffers from the same. Although there is a fair bit of cat-and-mouse game going on, it slacks every now and then. The plus points for the book are the current and controversial problem it deals with and a morally and ethically placating solution. For the first time Robert Langdon is endowed with eidetic memory and we are repeatedly reminded of it – about time, considering the knowledge he has been displaying on the go for a while now. Sienna is vulnerable and appealing but does not leave a lasting impression.
However, the best thing about the book is how it discusses the evolution of the concept of hell in human mind and inspires you to read the man who converted the metaphorical place of torment into an actual physical terror show that scared the wits out of his contemporaries…Yes, none other than Dante Aliaghieri… And I could not agree more with him:
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis…...”
Not acting is not always the answer and mute witnesses are no less guilty than the offenders (Remember how the entire dhyutsabha payed the price in Kurukshetra)…
Read and contemplate…
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