Angels And Demons (4/5) -- I have to give credit to Dan Brown. Though he'll never win any awards for his writing, he somehow digs up the dirt on some really cool historical events and people. His second novel mimics his later The Da Vinci Code. Instead of Christianity, it's the Vatican City and the Catholic Church under fire here. There's even an Hassassin who is the mirror image of Silas. And Langdon runs around Rome finding clues from historical works of art, mostly that of Bernini.
So, what happens in the novel? CERN has discovered how to create antimatter. A capsule of this is stolen by the Illuminati and stashed it somewhere below the Vatican City as a time bomb. The Illuminati is a real underground group that rose from the rank of scientists like Galileo when they couldn't stand the atrocities of the Church against science. After hundreds of years, they're now back for revenge. The Pope has just died and the cardinals are gathered in the Vatican to elect the next one. The Illuminati has captured their 4 popular candidates and will be murdering them one an hour at some of Rome's historical locations. It's up to symbologist Langdon and his CERN researcher Vittoria to stop the murders and defuse the bomb in time.
The ambigrams are a cool addition to the book. Just like in The Da Vinci Code, Langdon will suddenly stop at critical junctures and start spouting historical trivia. He claims all the places, incidents he presents from history are true. Dan Brown gathered some great elements for his story, but squanders it with amateurish writing. Not to regret too much, the book is still an unputdownable all-nighter. A movie of the book is in the works with Tom Hanks as Langdon. My margin notes are here.