With New Dan Brown Novel, Harvard Professors to Once Again Seem Exciting

Inferno hits stores Tuesday.


Dan Brown’s latest thriller Inferno comes out Tuesday, and once again, the Exeter New Hampshire-based phenomenon will try to convince the reading public that a tweed-wearing scholar of ancient (and now, medieval) history does exciting things like escape death, take down the Catholic Church, and get it on with Jesus’s attractive progeny.

Brown’s book once again focuses on Robert Langdon, a Harvard “symbologist” and a man so exciting, he was named one of Boston‘s “top 10 most intriguing people.” Or so we discovered while reading The DaVinci Code lo, those many years ago, when Brown used us to embarrass his protagonist. “Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome, like some of our younger awardees, this 40-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure,” we apparently wrote. (In reality, we wrote a Dan Brown-style profile of the man behind the books.)

Book stores are ready for what will probably be the best-selling title this year, the Guardian reports. Amazon’s already selling pre-orders for well below the list price. As for what to expect, the New York Times is first out with a review, and Janet Maslin suggests we can expect much of the same from Brown, though this time, he’ll focus on Dante’s Inferno, not the early Christian Church.

Mr. Brown is more serious than usual when he invokes Dante’s dire warning: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

But the main emphasis here is hardly on gloom. It is on the prodigious research and love of trivia that inform Mr. Brown’s stories … the ease with which he sets them in motion, the nifty tricks (Dante’s plaster death mask is pilfered from its museum setting, then toted through the secret passageways of Florence in a Ziploc bag) and the cliffhangers.

As for what we say you can expect, if you read our investigation into the very secretive guy behind the books, you’ll know that he’s someone who can make life seem more exciting than reality might allow. Even the life of a Dante scholar. But then, what do we know? “Boston Magazine clearly has a gift for fiction,” Langdon once said of us. Ouch.