Another impulsive mystery novel by Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame (which was surprisingly written later), this book is a thrilling cat and mouse quest that will keep the reader hooked right up till the final revelation. A frantic paced, edge of your seat thriller, this book is a classic. Extensively researched with a complex plot, characters and action, this mystery cum science cum romance cum murder cum action will keep you spellbound for sure.
The story revolves around the protagonist Robert Langdon, a professor at Harvard University of Art History and Religious Iconology, who is called upon by Maximilian Kohler, the director of CERN, the world’s largest scientific research facility located in Geneva, Switzerland, to assist in solving the murder of Leonardo Vetra, a renouned scientist in CERN who is found dead with “Illuminati” branded on his chest. Amusingly, Vetra was a priest as well as a physicist who believed that both science and religion are merely different roads leading to the same destination, a truth called God. The re-emergence of Illuminati, which was believed to be a long lost secret society of old brotherhood of scientists, takes everyone by surprise. At the same time, a canister is stolen from CERN and placed in the Vatican city threatening to blow off the holy ground into pieces in a spine chilling countdown. The canister contains Antimatter, an extremely useful but at the same time, horrifyingly devastating substance analogous to an atom bomb. And when four cardinals, potential candidates for a new pontiff to be elected following the death of the Pope, all disappear; things deteriorate from worse to worst in a thrilling life or death pulsating chase. Parallel to all this runs the adventure and love story of Langdon and Vittoria, the adopted daughter of the slain scientist. In the end it is Camerlengo, the right arm of the deceased Pope who finds the Antimatter and saves the day but the mind-boggling ending leaves you stunned. The splendid amalgam of religion and science blended with flavours of history here and there is what makes this novel a compelling read.
However the hold back of the book is description of the characters ad nauseum. At times the adventures too seem to be somewhat out of the world, similar to Superman likes. Also for the ones with a weak heart, the grotesque description of the murders of the cardinals might result in sleepless nights. On the other hand a particularly striking feature, more from a personal opinion, is the actual illustration of the word inversions, a creative Illuminati eye candy. Also, the crude contrast between the ultra modern facilities of CERN and the trail of century’s old ancient symbols as clues to Vatican’s salvation and the journey through the sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, is extremely captivating.
Certainly way superior among all his works so far, this Dan Brown’s masterpiece is not just a highly entertaining thriller but also thought provoking on grounds of the ages long friction between science and religion. With the release of the movie based on this novel, round the corner in India, this book promises you an entirely different and unforgettable experience for years to come.