Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What you're reading

(Robert Langdon #4),
by Dan Brown

I was surprised to capture a copy of the bestselling Inferno, because I assumed all copies would be on hold for patrons, but I guess I nabbed it in between checkouts--it was in the "reshelving" area, so I took it right back to the circulation desk and home for the weekend.

So...beautiful foreign locations, convoluted plot, villainy, lots of chase scenes, save-the-day scenarios...what can you say? It's Dan Brown. Wildly popular, and perfect for a certain mood.

Let's face it, no one reads Dan Brown for great writing. No one expects the characters to be multidimensional. You read Dan Brown for the secrets and the conspiracies and the ridiculously high stakes on which the plot is hinged. You read Dan Brown for the excitement, the momentum, the twists and turns. It's a thriller, not a magnum opus. You fall into the familiar bits (Robert Langdon with his Harris tweed, his Mickey Mouse watch, his perfect hair and earnest demeanor; the plucky female sidekick du jour; the ambivalence you feel about the dastardly deed about to be committed by the evil yet brilliant villain) and let the story carry you. It's a formula. (Sorry, Dan, but it is!)

That admitted, one thing you can say for Dan Brown is that he always gives a little something extra (or a lot!): He knows how to research, and he always teaches you many things both historical and artistic in the course of your thrill ride. Some people enjoy that, while others are bored stiff and skip over it. I always anticipate absorbing the art history on offer.
Dante statue, Florence, by Enrico Pazzi

I thought this one had more than enough Dante, and vastly preferred all the Fodor's-style details about the beautiful cities of Florence and Venice to the graphically described literature and artwork of sinners in torment! I also thought that Brown escaped part of his formula with the resolution to this plot (which I liked), but I won't say more about that--no spoilers here.

Anyway, if you like Dan Brown,
this one's for you.

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