Inferno, by Dan Brown

I enjoyed Inferno, the latest Dan Brown, and don’t mind admitting it. I have to take this precaution of semi-apologising, because so many people are so scathing about him, and downright vociferous in describing his (lack of) literary qualities. So yes, the writing is clunky, repetitions abound, descriptions are hardly finely chiselled pieces of writing but you know what, I want to keep reading anyway. I’ve only been really disappointed by one of Brown’s books that I’ve read, and that’s Deception Point, the point of which I did not get at all, I was probably deceived about it. (Get my heavy handed attempt at deriding Dan Brown’s writing style, which is the new fashion among literary critics?)

More specifically, I enjoy being compelled to turn the pages to find out to which location the indefatigable Mr Langdon and his female acolyte of the day are about to be whisked off. I also want to guess and then find out, once there, which building or painting or object we’re about to be introduced to for a quick history-of-art-for-dummies session. What I call the boys’ own adventure elements, i.e. the regular police officers, the thugs employed by the baddies, the gadgets deployed by either side, bore me a bit. In Inferno, when the miniature drone buzzed over the hero’s head for the umpteenth time, I experienced a definite “Again? please come up with something new” feeling, but then, the car chases aren’t what I enjoy most in Bond films.

I read Dorothy L. Sayers’s Hell, the acclaimed translation of the original Inferno into English, not so long ago, so the Dante elements which are important to the book were fresh in my mind. And if sales of the Divine Comedy go up as a result of Dan Brown’s latest book, then he can be credited with introducing new readers to a canon of classical European literature.

And, as far as I know, because I haven’t read everything he’s written, the ending is a first for Brown. Without spoiling anything, the book ends with a new situation, rather than a problem solved. The serious issue raised is not dealt with particularly seriously but it makes for a good read. Literary grouches, keep away. The rest of us, buy the book, fire up the Kindle and indulge in a few hours of easy-on-the-brain relaxation.

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