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    Review of ANGELS & DEMONS by Dan Brown

    Pocket Books, May 2000

    Professor Robert Langdon gets an early morning call from the director of CERN, the European research lab. One of their scientists has been murdered--and branded with the mystical name of the Illuminati. Langdon is a world expert on religious symbolism, including the supposedly long-extinct Illuminati, and he is tempted to reject the CERN director's statement, but the dead man was branded with the name Illuminati--written as it supposedly was but had never been replicated--so it read the same upside down and rightside up. A quick hypersonic flight later and Langdon is in Switzerland looking at the scientist's body.

    The murder is only part of the horror that awaits him. The dead scientist had been working to prove the existence of Genesis--that the universe could be created by light alone--and has created large amounts of antimatter. The antimatter is now somewhere in the Vatican, where the Cardinals have gathered to elect a new Pope. Apparently the Illuminati have planned the complete destruction of the Vatican, the College of Cardinals, and the huge wealth of the Catholic Church in one violent explosion. Somehow, Langdon, along with Vittoria Vetra, the murdered scientist's beautiful scientist-daughter, must learn the truth before the battery separating antimatter from ordinary matter fails and the entire Vatican vanishes into myth.

    Author Dan Brown (see more reviews of novels by Brown) tells a fast-paced story with plenty of twists and turns. Conspiracy buffs will love hearing about the ancient emnity between science and the Church, and be interested in the possible integration offered by Brown.

    Obviously the story is a bit far-fetched. Why the mysterious 'Janus' doesn't simply keep Langdon out of the mystery is never addressed (although he certainly has opportunities). The Assassin's speaking of Arabic is a bit odd since the ancient Assassin organization was a Persian Shite group, not an Arabic group--it also confined its assassinations to fellow Moslems. But Brown introduces enough history to make the story hold together. I thought the BBC reporter, Gunther Glick was a nice addition--venal but able to introduce some of the more paranoid Illuminati theories that even Langdon would have never bought into.

    Unlike his THE DA VINCI CODE (see our review), Brown doesn't really try to convince us that this is real. Instead, he gives us a slam-bang adventure, a bit of sexual tension, a reporter for comic relief, the ancient battle between science and religion, and a few far-out conspiracy theories. It's fluff, but it's enjoyable fluff.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 2/12/05

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