On page 334 of Inferno, Dan Brown’s tweedy Harvard iconographer Robert Langdon reveals to Sienna Brooks – a British-born misfit genius who gallops around three favourite tourist destinations with him in this latest adventure – that “We’re in the wrong country”. Cue a flight out of Venice, where a plot rammed to bursting-point with guide-book factoids and the vintage formulae of apocalyptic science-fiction has shifted from its opening location in Florence.
Readers will know soon enough that the third, and decisive, city of Inferno is Istanbul. Once there, we learn under the gilded dome of the cathedral-mosque-museum of Hagia Sophia that “the traditions of East and West are not as divergent as you might think”.
Listen out for the agonised wailing of lost souls who staked their tie-in stunts on a bankable Florentine showdown. The torments of Dante’s damned – in the event, more a trigger to the action of Inferno than a regular sound-track to its twists – will have nothing on their bitter grief. Indeed, the esoteric lore of the Florentine Renaissance, which unlike the arcane rigmarole of The Da Vinci Code does have some solid basis in history, plays a much smaller role here than all the predictions supposed.
Click to continue: The Independent