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MK's Reading Life

Lifelong passionate reader. Mysteries, Fantasy, and Non-Fiction of various sorts. Currently reading a fair amount focused on WWI and the interwar years. (I have no idea why.)

Inferno - Dan Brown

Inferno - Dan Brown 


If you are a Dan Brown fan, have at it! It's a page turner. Lots of twists and turns. You probably won't want to read any further in this review.


I can't believe I let myself get suckered in twice. I first read Dan Brown before The Da Vinci Code was released. I was working as a bookseller at the time and read one of the many Advanced Reader copies sent by the publisher. I thought it was a fast, light read; rather like reading a movie. But there was nothing to get me to read the rest of his work. (Although, I did enjoy the movies.) And his idiosyncratic writing style makes me a little crazy.


The writing is not improved in Inferno. Mr. Brown has an annoying habit of . . . abusing ellispes to . . . create tension and . . . suspense. When I see this I start hearing William Shatner read the book in my head. My high school English teacher would not be amused, and neither am I. Cheap manipulation.


When reading fiction, I need to be able to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief.  If it's fantasy or science fiction, I can stretch my imagination a long way, as long as the world building is consistent. But if the book is set on this world, and in the present time, then the world should be consistent with the world I know, and people should act like human beings. And this is my main objection to Inferno. If I'm going to trust an author enough to go along for this wild conspiracy ride, then I need all the mundane details to be solid. And Inferno is filled with absolute howlers. 


It all started for me with the IV. I won't go into details, but I don't think Mr. Brown has ever has an IV in his arm. "What? WHAT? Oh, please." Then there was this: " . . . Functioning without his memory felt like attempting to land a plane in the dark with no radar."  Attempting to land a plane in the dark with no radar would be like trying to navigate in a car with no satellite radio. Lights, Dan. You need runway and landing lights to land a plane in the dark. He has a character ride a BMW motorcycle, which he describes as having a smooth running four cycle engine. Every road going motorcycle built for at least the last 3 or 4 decades has a four cycle engine. He has this same motorcycle fishtail to a stop leaving rubber on the road. BMW motorcycles have anti-lock brakes, have had for a long time.


While this can seem like nit-picking, his plots and codes are built on details: the details of a painting, verses of a book or the structure of a building. And he wants you to believe that his secret organizations actually exist in the real world, he's just changed their names. He wants you to believe that he has done meticulous research. He somehow has access to these mysterious organizations, but he can't talk to a nurse, a pilot or a motorcycle rider. 


As a whole, yes, it's a rip roaring yarn, and will probably make a good movie. But to enjoy this as a book, you'll need to be far more forgiving and flexible in your willingness to believe than I am.