This is the first time I’ve re-read this book since it came out in 2013. My feelings now are about the same as they were nine years ago. The storyline is another chase scene in which the bad guys are after Robert Langdon and a young doctor who befriends him through Florence. Florence is one of my favorite cities, so it was fun reading about places I visited. If you’re about ready to travel to Florence, read this book first.
Otherwise, the story drags. Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence with a head wound (a bullet grazed his scalp) and has no idea why he’s in Italy. Always a handy plot crutch, retrograde amnesia keeps the main character in he dark about his circumstances while an assassin tries again to kill him–with the help of the U.S. Consulate–along with all the police in the country.
The book is a travelogue with two desperate people running through it. The catcher in the rye is the pariah of a scientist Bertrand Zobrist who advocates letting plagues run wild because that is–according to his research–the only way the Earth’s unsustainable population levels can be brought under control. I must admit that as global warming issues have become more pronounced, his view of the population’s fate is more chilling now than when I first read the book. (I enjoyed Dante’s Divine Comedy more than this book.)
Like all of Brown’s books, the story is heavy on exposition about history and art, in this case, Florence and Dante. If you took all that out of the book, it would be a novella. I re-read this book due to the lack of anything new in the house and really wish I’d picked something else to re-read like one of John Hart’s or Pat Conroy’s books.