by Brown, Dan

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces-Dante's "Inferno"-as he battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle-

Dan Brown is the author of The Da Vinci Code, one of the most widely read novels of all time, as well as the international bestsellers Inferno, The Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress. He lives in New England with his wife.

That Robert Langdon. He goes through more machinations in 72 hours than a phalanx of folk would in several lifetimes. This time out, the professor wakes up in a Florence hospital unable to remember the last several days. A bullet has grazed his head, and some bad people are after him, but with the help of the lovely Dr. Sienna Brooks, he's able to escape-and escape and escape, as he slowly comprehends that a plague is quite deliberately about to be released, and it's his job to figure out the puzzles and symbols that lead to its location. All of Brown's books have a big idea underpinning them-the family of Jesus, freemasonry-and here one of them is Dante's Inferno, a theme that will probably resonate more with readers familiar with the work, though many pages are spent explaining the man, his muse, and the influences that shaped the epic poem. The other theme sharing center stage concerns population control and humanity's determination to be fruitful and multiply itself into oblivion. Is it a worthwhile endeavor to cull the human herd in order to save it? In posing this and other troubling questions, Brown weans himself away from the guidebook atmosphere that permeates the story, as Langdon and Brooks race from Florence to Venice to Istanbul, and asks readers to think about their own answers to the overpopulation dilemma. Fans will once more enjoy the through line of the Langdon formula-the race to find a find an iconic object at the corner of deadly thrills and plot twists. The negatives are here, too: paper-thin characters and windy descriptions. But for those hungry for more Brown, this has some meat on its bones. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Brown's (The Lost Symbol, 2009, etc.) latest, in which a very bad guy is convinced that there are entirely too many people roaming the surface of the planet, and, because he's a fan of Dante and the Plague both, he's set to unleash inferno upon the world. Naturally enough, this being a Brown novel, someone is in possession of a piece of occult knowledge that will save the day-or not. The novel is populated with the usual elements in the form of secret, conspiratorial organizations and villains on the way to being supervillains, and readers of a literary bent may find the writing tortured: "This morning, as he stepped onto the private balcony of his yacht's stateroom, the provost looked across the churning sea and tried to fend off the disquiet that had settled in his gut." To his credit, Brown's yarn is somewhat more tightly constructed than his earlier Langdon vehicles, though its best parts are either homages or borrowings; the punky chick assassin who threatens Langdon, for instance, seems to have wandered in from a Stieg Larsson set, while the car-chase-and-explosions stuff, to say nothing of Langdon's amnesiac wanderings around the world, would seem to be a nod to Robert Ludlum. (Being chased by a drone is a nice touch, though.) If you want more of the great medieval poet Dante woven into a taut thriller, see Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. Ace symbologist Robert Langdon returns, and the world trembles. Perfect escapist reading for fans. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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