Dan Brown’s INFERNO by the Numbers


Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, circa ANGELS AND DEMONS.

Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, circa ANGELS AND DEMONS.

Handsome Symbologist Robert Langdon is at it again! He wakes up with retrograde amnesia in a hospital in Florence, barely escapes an attempt on his life, acquires a plucky female sidekick, and gets down to the important business of being handsome and symbology-solving. And that’s all within, like, the first twenty pages of Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno, a thriller that, predictably/reliably (take your pick) draws on Brown’s/Langdon’s wonkish knowledge of obscure art history and European architecture to save the world from a madman whose clues are drawn from Dante’s work of the same name.

Unpopular though it may be to admit it publicly, I kind of love Dan Brown. The books are ridiculous, sure, but they’re consistently fun to read and perfect for summer weekends when the old brain needs a vacation. It’s nice to be able to unplug and let Robert Langdon do all the worrying for me. If you’ve read Brown, you know there’s a formula to his stories, and you can count on certain items and ideas making repeated appearances. So just for kicks, I kept track of a bunch of Brown’s favorite things during my latest adventure with Robert Langdon.

Fellow Rioter Greg and I will be breaking down our full reactions to the book together in a separate post, so today I give you, simply, Inferno by the numbers. I drank while reading, so, you know, the counts might not be totally accurate.

Bad guys who jump off buildings: 1

Deaths: 4

Reminders that Robert Langdon is a symbologist: 16

Portentous dreams: 1

Dwight Schrute-style declarations of facts: 1

dan brown inferno page


Times Robert Langdon thinks he is going to die: 3

Attempts to kill Robert Langdon: 5

Robert Langdon is caught in a cramped space/afraid he’s about to be caught in a cramped space/reminds someone that he is claustrophobic: 13

Eye-roll worthy self-selected Bad Guy nicknames: 2 (The Shade? I mean, really, D. Brizzle. I expect more.)

Mentions of the Girl Friday’s (her name is Sienna Brooks) ponytail: 13

Symbols actually printed into text of the book: 4

People who are not what they seem: 2

References to Robert Langdon’s beloved collector’s edition Mickey Mouse watch: 6

Hints that Robert Langdon is suave with the ladies: 4

Number of times I wondered if Robert Langdon would be any good in bed: at least a dozen (verdict: probably not, but I’ll bet he has one solid go-to move)

Laps swum by Robert Langdon: 0 (which must be a first for a Robert Langdon book…but he does think about swimming once)

Puzzles solved/devices unlocked/codes cracked: 11

Comments about Robert Langdon’s eidetic memory: 5

Mistakes Robert Langdon recognizes he made just in the knick of time: 1 (he wouldn’t be likable if he were perfect, you know)

Number of times Robert Langdon channels Dante and swoons: 3

Boats with symbolic names: 1 (The Mendacium….come on, you know that’s great)

Lengthy expositions about architecture, art, history, and Robert Langdon’s taste in clothing: you know I wasn’t counting that closely

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Do you think Langdon’s preference for Harris Tweed is an autobiographical detail? Hmmmmm.

Publishing jokes: 4 (the best being when Langdon’s editor thinks he would be more deserving of favors if he wrote, say, Fifty Shades of Iconography)


Any recurring tropes I missed? Do you have a favorite Dan Brown detail?


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