The new novel by Dan Brown brings together Florence, Dante's Inferno (hence the novel's name), overpopulation issues and biological warfare. It is a breakneck ride through some of Florence's, Venice's and Istanbul's most glamorous museums, churches, historical art and architecture. Of course since the novel is written by Dan Brown, secret hiding places are de rigueur.
If you are interested in learning about the history of Florence, particularly under the Medicis this is a good book. If you are interested in the history of the doge empires of Venice this is a good book. If you are interested in the byzantine era of Istanbul, then this is a good book. If you are interested in learning something about the renaissance with its painters, architects, politics, and worldwide repercussions, this is a good book. If you are interested in reading about much discussed exotic locals as they exist today and their surprising, yet at the same time unsurprising, underground, this is a good book. If you want to think about some perplexing issues facing humankind that our political leaders ignore, this is a good book. But be forewarned, Brown does tend to sledgehammer you with a little self-righteous indignation at the end.
But all in all, I think this is a good and entertaining read. It is not intellectual highbrow, but a beach blanket gambit for those sunny lazy days. A fast paced thrill ride. But be warned this is not about secrets in Dante's poem, but how Dante's poem is used as a metaphor for the machinations of some real world bad guys. Honestly makes more sense than albino monks and banned priestly orders trying to take over the world or some ridiculous secret about holy offspring.
I was a little taken aback however, when Brown begins with a note that the secret organization he uses as a catalyst in the book, actually does exist. Now I know that there are corporations and groups that fly under the radar and work in a dark and seamy world. I just thought that in a fiction book the characters and ideas would be a twist on reality not be reality itself. This does make the story just a little bit creepy. OK, honestly there are some others reasons this story is a little bit too real and too disturbing, but you will have to read it to find out. No spoilers here.