EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 2, 2013

Brown's on fire with 'Inferno'

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

---- — Exeter, N.H., native Dan Brown has another winner in his latest book, “Inferno.”

That’s very good news for the gazillion fans of “The DaVinci Code.” If you’re among them you will feel right at home with this book in your hands. And if you haven’t read “The DaVinci Code,” that gives you two great reads for your summer list.

Brown’s “Inferno” is built upon this possibility: Hell may be coming to Earth.

It’s in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, where Professor Robert Langdon wakes up to this possibility after being haunted by nightmares. The nightmares, however, aren’t the worst of his problems. Langdon can’t remember how or why he’s landed in Italy in the first place, nor how he was grazed by a bullet aimed at his head.

Though he’s been sedated, there is little time for recovery. Moments after he regains consciousness, a spiky-haired woman strides down the hall and tries to kill him again. He narrowly escapes with the help of his doctor, quick-thinking Sienna Brooks, who asks Langdon about an object he has been carrying.

Covered with text and symbols, the object is a cylinder that, once opened, yields an odd device that becomes a projector. Though Langdon is an expert on Italian art and literature (Dante in particular), the image from the projector mystifies him.

It’s a famous painting, an impression of Dante’s “Inferno,” but it has been altered. Dante’s Rings of Hell are out of order, and there are additions to the painting in strange places.

Slowly, Langdon comes to understand that the alterations are clues to what the device was and where it came from. There’s no time to think, though. Someone wants him dead and they’ll surely kill Brooks, too.

On a ship just off the coast of Italy, the provost ponders his last client. He’s glad the man’s contract is done. The Consortium spent a year maintaining the man’s privacy and safety, but the work was troublesome and the provost regrets taking the business. He regrets it even more when he realizes what that client is about to unleash.

Brown’s two main characters escape and are chased over and over and over again, relentlessly – which is exciting at first, but tiring as this book progresses. The book is a bit too long, but that’s the only bad news.

This is a thriller injected with chases, intrigue, esoteric clues that require genius-level thinking, international locales, secret passages, and an evil madman. It’s complex and fast-moving. For a couple weeks’ worth of entertainment, what more could you want?