Angels and Demons is one of the most insidiously-constructed page turners I’ve ever read and unlike other such efforts (Richard Laymon’s IN THE DARK) I actually raced to the end of it rather than throwing the thing half-finished against the wardrobe in rage. Think of Hercules Poirrot. Think of Inspector Morse. Think of Agatha Christie. Once you strip all the character and soul from these genre writers you have Dan Brown. They all have in common the one writer trick, etirwer (the backwards rewrite). I don’t mean check a book for spelling and grammar. I mean write a basic plot line. Then go back. Adding in detail that will drive the narrative relentlessly towards what you sketched. Stuffing the book with glimpses of false trails and dead ends to keep the reader in the dark, so to speak. Confounding the reader in a way that will make him feel insignificant and meaningless.
This, for me, is the worst of all genre writing tricks.
Professor of Symbology Robert Langdon in his tweed and nuclear physicist Vittaria Vetra in her Lara Croft gear go in search of the thieves who killed Vittaria’s dad and stole the anti-matter from CERN and find themselves in what appears to be a travelogue of the more obscure bits of Vatican City. It reads just like that, a Treasure Hunt type of book. The reader is dragged along with teasing glimpses of THE TRUTH behind the religion and the war with science that has waged through the ages. But it could have all taken place in a virtual world like the internet or a library with mischievous librarians swapping cards around so old ladies can no longer find their Mills and Boons.
Any good book should involve, include, confront or enrage the reader – this book cored out the reader’s personality so that by the end you didn’t care if there were 30 more pages yet to go as the final threads of the convoluted narrative finally unravelled.
This book (maybe all Dan Brown books) should come with a mental health warning: At no point in the reading of this book was the reader in danger of thinking.
An ultimately vacuous exercise in Franchise Management D.B. even sneaked in an early reference to the following Professor Langdon mystery The DaVinci Code. Enough already!