Excerpts from a review of Secrets of Inferno posted on Amazon.com are below. The review, “Deriving the High Ground: Brown versus Burstein,” was written by Laura Gordon Kutnick.
Art was meant to hold the high ground in civilized society. But in this age of increasing digitization, artistic impression has been eclipsed by more exacting, concrete knowledge. With the erosion of lofty artistic ideals, gone too is man’s ability to transcend moral ambiguity and infuse larger meaning in life. Enter Dan Brown’s “Inferno” hell bent on resurrecting the power of heaven and hell from the rubble of contemporary “bestsellerdumb” by bridging the futuristic vision of a Michael Crichton with Dante’s archaic symbolism…Brown confangles Dante’s subterranean symbolism with the miracle of technology into a contemporary tale. His uberman, able to jump off large (historic) buildings in a single leap, mints a new theology between man and nature called “transhumanism”. A term appropriated from Dante, Brown’s notion of “transhumanism” dissolves the traditional separation between man and god/nature, and Brown’s uberman demonstrates how mankind can self-evolve according to their own design.
Not often does a suspense thriller trigger such thought provoking mental machinations, asking readers to rethink basic tenets of their existence. In this regard, Brown’s book would utterly and completely fail were it not buttressed by Dan Burstein’s and Arne de Keijzer’s “Secrets of Inferno: In the Footsteps of Dante and Dan Brown”. In my initial reading of Dan Brown’s “Inferno”, I experienced a cardboard classic science fiction thriller with characters distinguished more by hairstyle (spiked, bald, or grey flowing locks) than by character, and the sheer magnitude of Brown’s big thinking escaped me…For me, “Inferno” was little more than a fun filled James Bond travelogue. Without Burstein’s and de Keijer’s opus, “Inferno” was destined to be little more than formulaic pulp fiction, and Brown’s writing nothing to “write” home about.
How ironic it seemed that Dan Brown’s “Inferno” set the scene for Burstein’s and de Keijzer’s “Secrets of the Inferno”, not vica versa. What was originally conceived as a derivative work seemed more important than the original… “Secrets of the Inferno”, a must read with or without Brown’s version…I discovered that experiencing “Inferno” was like going on an archeological dig… So from my layman’s perspective, experiencing “Inferno” meant experiencing layer upon layer of derivative works… “Secrets of the Inferno” proved the necessary touchstone that provided easy access and dispensed contemporary appreciation of the original work.
Laura Gordon Kutnick