On the plane on the way back from Hawaii, I finished reading Inferno by Dan Brown. This is the sixth Dan Brown book that I have read. I read the Lost Symbol when it came out in 2009 and all of his earlier books in an eighteen month stretch ending in 2004.
After reading Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code in rapid succession in the last two weeks, Jack noted that "they are the same book." This is largely true of all four of the Robert Langdon novels. They all involve sequential chase scenes, female accomplices, secret conspiratorial agendas and puzzles.
With the exception of The Da Vinci Code, Brown's books all have of some kind of science theme at their core. Inferno is not exception; it has an unusual Mathusian message woven through the book. In an unexpected twist, the book has what I would characterize as a science fiction ending.
Dante's Inferno (Italian for "Hell") plays an important role in the puzzles in the book. Inferno is the first part of Dante's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy.
I particularly enjoy books that intersect with our love of exploring the world. The bulk of Inferno is set in Florence with a quick trip to Venice. Jack, Morgan, Sharon and I spent a couple of days in both Florence and Venice last summer. As the Robert Langdon character moves through Florence and Venice, he covered parts of the cities that we had explored. In particular, there is a scene on the balcony of St. Mark's Church in Venice. Jack and I wandered the balcony and saw the stones horses when we were there. There is an interesting section in the book about the history of the stone horses. The book ends somewhere we have not been, but I would be interested in exploring.
In spite of the its formulaic plot, I enjoyed the book as a light summer read. The Mathusian story line and science fiction ending provide some food for thought. I give the book a "B" grade.