Inferno (Robert Langdon)
by Dan Brown
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Anchor Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781400079155
Date: 06 May 2014 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Read an excerpt / Show Official Info /
The plot of Inferno is incredibly complex and hard to summarize in a 500–1000 word review. The overall theme is overpopulation of the world. That's a serious topic, and the bad guy of the novel is a world-famous geneticist who bio-engineers a plague that he plans to release to reduce the world's population. Everybody agrees that the villain is heinous for wanting to kill off one-third of the world, but on the other hand, we know he is right that our population is increasing beyond the point where our planet can keep up. That balance is part of what makes the suspense of Inferno so great. Now I will give a try to summarizing the plot.
Dan Brown's traditional hero is Robert Langdon, a symbology professor from Harvard. In Inferno, Langdon wakes up with amnesia in a hospital in Florence, Italy. As the doctors explain his amnesia and the wound where a bullet grazed his head, an assassin breaks into the hospital room, kills one of the doctors, and Langdon narrowly escapes with the second doctor.
The second doctor is the other main character, Doctor Sienna Brooks, who escapes the hospital with Langdon and grabs his jacket on the way out. After Langdon and Sienna arrive at her apartment, they try to make sense of Langdon's hallucinations and understand his memories from the last few days. They find a small projector in Langdon's jacket and when they point the projector on the wall, they see a famous painting by Botticelli called La Mappa dell'Inferno, or Map of Hell depicting Dante's version of Hell, only it has a few modifications.
The painting's modifications are a medieval doctor with a mask that was worn when treating plague victims, and some letters that point to a mural in Old Florence. This coincides with Langdon's hallucinations of suffering and plague doctors, and Langdon is afraid that someone is trying to release a plague on the general population of Earth. Langdon and Sienna head out amidst the great art of Old Florence to decipher the clues. All the while, they are being chased and Langdon has no idea why. I can't tell you too much more or I will spoil some of the surprises. Believe me, the book is great, and I highly recommend it.
Two other noteworthy characters are in the book. The first is "The Consortium". Actually a group, The Consortium provides services for a fee. Services often fall somewhere between dishonest and illegal, and The Consortium is the best in the world, often serving prominent clients. The group is tasked with trying to keep a major client hidden from the rest of the world and releasing a video to the international media for him in a few days. The second character is Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey, who is the head of the World Health Organization. She also has reason to fear a plague, based on various clues that unfold as the plot progresses.
The suspense is non-stop as Langdon and Sienna run throughout all the artwork and secret passages of Florence. Dan Brown describes the artwork in great detail, and his descriptions are wonderful to read. The characters all have secrets, and as I read, I consistently assumed one thing, when it turned out the opposite was true. I have been to Florence and visited some of the places where Langdon and Sienna went during the novel, and now I want to go back. I visited the Baptistery where Langdon and Sienna decipher some of the clues. I love to visit the secret passages and hard-to-find spots when I travel (I have had great luck finding them in Rick Steves' travel books). I hope some of the passages where the characters ran are open to the public because I want to go! On a previous trip to Paris, I took an illustrated copy of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code to help explain the landmarks, and Inferno will be great to take along on a trip to Florence!
I recommend Inferno thoroughly. It has great suspense and a surprising ending.