The Bookworm: The latest from Dan Brown and a waterlogged 'Titantic' tale

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By Dan Brown

c. 2013, Doubleday

$29.95/$30 Canada

465 pages

All your life, you’ve tried to be good. As a child, you were taught kindness and compassion, honesty and trustworthiness. You learned graciousness and generosity, and embraced gratitude.

You’ve always tried to be good for several reasons, mostly because it’s the right thing to do. Also, there’s a place for evil people and you don’t want to go there, but in the new novel “Inferno” by Dan Brown, you may have no choice. Hell may be coming to Earth.

Nothing made sense then again, nightmares rarely do.

But when Professor Robert Langdon woke up in a hospital room in Florence , Italy , the nightmares weren’t the worst of his problems. Langdon couldn’t remember how or why he’d gotten to Italy in the first place, or how he’d been grazed by a bullet aimed at his head. Though he’d been sedated, there was little time for recovery: moments after he regained consciousness, a spiky-haired woman strode down the hospital’s hall and tried to kill Langdon again. He narrowly escaped with the help of his doctor, quick-thinking Sienna Brooks, who asked Langdon about an object he’d been carrying.

Covered with text and symbols, the object was a cylinder that, once opened, yielded an odd device that became a projector. Though Langdon was an expert on Italian art and literature, Dante in particular, the image from the projector mystified him.

It was a famous painting, an impression of Dante’s “Inferno,” but it had been altered. Dante’s Rings of Hell were out of order, with additions to the painting in strange places. Slowly, Langdon came to understand that the alterations were clues to what the device was and where it had come from but there was no time to think. Someone wanted him dead, and they’d surely kill Dr. Brooks, too.

On a ship just off the coast of Italy , the provost pondered his last client. He was glad the man’s contract was done. The Consortium had spent a year maintaining the man’s privacy and safety, but the work was troublesome and the provost regretted taking the business.

He regretted it even more when he realized what the client was about to unleash

Okay, first the bad news: “Inferno” is a tad too long.

Author Dan Brown’s two main characters escape and are chased over and over and over again, relentlessly which is exciting at first, but tiring as this book progresses. “Inferno” also ends rather strangely (but I won’t tell you why, because that would ruin it for you).

Now the good news: Dan Brown has a new book out.

And it’s a thriller with chases, intrigue, esoteric clues that require genius-level thinking, international locales, secret passages, and an evil madman. It’s complex and fast-moving. For a couple weeks’ worth of entertainment, what more could you want?

Fans of “The DaVinci Code” will feel right at home with this book in their hands, and espionage lovers will want to dive right in. If that’s you, and you crave a good book, “Inferno” is already one of this summer’s hottest.

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By Nicole Bradshaw

c. 2013, Strebor Books

$15/$17 Canada

320 pages

You need a vacation. Just a little getaway, that’s all. A few days outside, sand and sun, drinks with umbrellas served by someone in a uniform. Luxurious accommodations, rich food yeah, you could see that kind of life becoming more than just a vacation.

But would you move, permanently? In the new book “Unsinkable” by Nicole Bradshaw, the LaRoche family decided to return to Canada and leave France behind forever. But they would actually leave behind much, much more.

The night started so well, and ended so badly.

Fifteen-year-old Corrine LaRoche snuck out of the house to see her boyfriend, but then she caught him cheating. When she returned home in tears, she found the police in her house and one of them had his foot on her father’s neck.

That kind of harassment didn’t happen often, but it happened enough. Corrine’s father was a Negro man; her mother was white. Years ago, they’d left Canada to move to Cherbourg, France , hoping to make a good life for their family overseas. Now it was time to go back home.

With plans for his wife to join them later, Corrine’s father booked second-class tickets for himself and his daughters on the Titanic.

Though her sister was less than awed, Corrine was amazed by the size of the great ship. She could hardly believe that something so big could float on water. The Titanic was nearly as big as Cherbourg itself! There was music on-deck, tables with umbrellas, and lots and lots of people.

But the one person who caught Corrine’s eye was a handsomely-uniformed young white seaman who seemed quite attracted to her. His name was Christopher and his uncle was the Captain of the Titanic. So when he invited Corrine to have dinner with him in the first-class dining room, she naturally accepted although no one else was happy about their budding romance. Christopher’s mother had hoped he would marry a girl from his social class, and not a common Negro girl. Corrine’s father distrusted white people, too. But for Corrine and Christopher, nothing would stop their growing love.

Nothing, of course, except an iceberg

I was so excited about this book. It had such promise: a novel loosely based on a true story of the only Black family on the Titanic.

I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, I should’ve

When I say that author Nicole Bradshaw “loosely” based “Unsinkable” on truth, I mean very, very loosely. The setting of the book is 100 years old but its language is modern, which ruined the story for me right there. There are some obvious historical details that are wrong here, and we’re expected to accept several big stretches of imagination on top of that. Yes, this is fiction, but it could’ve been much better fiction had it not been modernized, altered, or contrived.

To say that this book was a disappointment to me is an understatement of Titanic proportions and for that, I can’t recommend it. Overall, my opinion of “Unsinkable” is that it just tanks.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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