And so I come to Dan Brown. Despite much peer pressure, I remember resisting the urge to read the Da Vinci Code when it was released in 2003. I can’t remember why. I think it’s for the same reason I never saw Jurassic Park. Everyone was reading ‘The Code’ so I did the opposite. Belligerent, I know.
In December last year I read the latest Robert Langdon saga, Inferno. I like Dante and I like Italy so an easy page-turner as I headed into the silly season should have been perfect. Except that it wasn’t. I think my Langdon days are over. I don’t say this as a literary snob. I’ve read my fair share of popular fiction – there has even been the odd Jackie Collins or two. Sometimes my brain needs to be walked through a book rather than trudge through the great Himalayas of academia. But this one was too silly even for the silly season.
The premise is not unlike the other three Robert Langdon thrillers. This time, the backdrop is gorgeous Florence where I spent part of my honeymoon. And while I would suggest the anti-matter of Angels and Demons was a stretch too far in terms of realistic plot devices, it seemed far more believable than the sterilisation-inducing virus of Inferno. I think the issue (for me) is that Brown fuses classics and history such as Dante and Da Vinci with very futuristic Higges-Boson particle-esqe technology. These are not easy or happy marriages.
I know I’m not really enjoying a book when I start to skim read or even skip pages and that’s what I found myself doing with Inferno. It’s disappointing for me as a reader.
Perhaps its time for Langdon to retire into academia. And perhaps Dan Brown could publish one of the Harvard texts on symbolism by his professor protagonist. Now that, I would read.