Dan Brown, in his new book Inferno, returns to Italy and to the religious themes he seems to love. His latest is inspired by the country’s renowned poet Dante Alighieri and his vision of Hell. ?The story begins with Professor Robert Langdon waking up in Florence, Italy, with a bullet wound in his head and suffering from retrograde amnesia.
He is being pursued by an ominous-looking woman, dressed in black leather carrying a gun. A beautiful blonde doctor appears to rescue the professor, after which the chase to unravel the mystery begins.
The villain in the book is a mad scientist named Bertrand Zobrist who commits suicide in the first page of the novel, and is obsessed with Dante’s version of Hell. Thencefrom the book derives its name. ?The insane scientist thinks that the world has become so populated that it is only a step away from descending into Dante’s version of Hell. He, therefore, decides to do something about this threat and leaves a series of clues as to what this is, in the famous Italian tourist-spots that are more or less connected with Dante.
The first clue he leaves is contained in a Botticelli painting of Dante’s Hell which he has slightly altered. This alteration puts Langdon on the alert and leads him to the next clue along with a woman doctor by the name Sienna Brooks. Langdon, during the course of his findings, realises that Zobrist has the belief that this overpopulated world will become a safer place only when at least a third of the total population is culled.?
There are several other clues left in Florence’s Baptistery and in the Cathedral of Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice likewise.
Eventually, Langdon realises that the crazy scientist believed that the Black Death was the best thing that ever happened to Europe because it took away with it a chunk of the hungry mouths and made Europe more prosperous as a result.
Zobrist specifically points out that after the Black Death, followed the European Renaissance, which marked the rebirth of literature, art and culture.
Zobrist has put a slowly dissolving bag somewhere which contains a deadly virus that can repeat the same monstrous feat, wiping out billions of people.
As Langdon deduces this is the deadliest virus known to mankind, he begins his search for the bag.?The professor, along with his beautiful companion, arrives in Venice believing that the bag is hidden in one of the lagoons.
A new clue reveals that the bag is in a different location, Istanbul. By the time Langdon realises where the bag is, he finds out startling truths about the other characters around him.
The story has all the ingredients of a movie, and I won’t be surprised if it materialises soon. Dan Brown has claimed to have gone, in great depths, into the histories of Dantesque philosophy and theology, which is evident in Inferno.
But, having said that, the plotline remains the book’s weakest link. Brown, who enjoys readership in millions, is sure to disappoint his ardent followers this time with this predictable potboiler.