Robert Langdon is back with his fourth mystery-solving, puzzle-aplenty adventure in Dan Brown’s latest novel. The Harvard professor finds himself in Florence with no memory of how he got there or why he wakes up in a hospital bed with someone wanting to kill him. Becoming frustrated with his amnesia, Robert struggles to make sense of his apparent situation and finding himself pulled further and further into a mystery that has something to do with Dante’s Inferno. Racing against time and not remembering who he can and can’t trust, Robert must start from the beginning and solve the mystery – a mystery that he can’t remember if he already had previously figured out.
Personally, I don’t understand the flack that Dan Brown gets for his novels. I thoroughly enjoy his Robert Langdon series, with Angels & Demons being my favourite. While Inferno didn’t necessarily captivate me as much as the first in the series did, it was still entertaining and thrilling nonetheless. I felt that Brown setting the book in Europe, rather than North America in his last one, brought the essence of the book back to its roots. The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons were set in Europe and were a huge success where as The Lost Symbol, set in the U.S., had garnered mediocre reviews. Whether that has any correlation between each other is only my opinion but what I feel makes Dan Brown’s novels so captivating is that they are so enriched with actual art, history and landmarks. Perhaps it is because the European countries that have been featured in his books have so many more years of history behind them than, say, Washington D.C. and so there was more to work with.
Speaking of factual elements, that is one of my favourite things about Brown’s books. It always takes me twice as long to get through them because I stop and look up online everything he references so I can see for myself how it fits into the story. I don’t always feel compelled to do that for many novels, but it seems every one of his books I can’t help but do my own research on them. Inferno was certainly rich in historical and literary elements. Langdon, being a professor, will – obviously – profess and lecture on many subjects. While some may find this boring and tedious, but I loved the elements that Brown could work in some educational aspect. Admittedly, there were times when some passages felt a bit repetitive. For example, the number of times a particular scene was described – in almost the same way each time, no less – felt incredibly drawn out and over done. We get it! There’s sounds of lapping water! (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler.)
Setting that aside though, Inferno is what you would expect from a Dan Brown novel about our favourite professor of symbology – and I mean that in the best way. His books are enjoyable and thought provoking, with some twists and turns along the way. There are some incredibly interesting ideas that form the basis of this novel that will really make people stop and think.