Inferno - Dan Brown is back - and once more - a good connoisseur of art but a terrible artist

Dan Brown is back. Yet another artist (Dante, this time) to milk and yet another scandal to exploit. Thankfully his last novel, "The Lost Symbol", was so bad that Inferno comes out on top of that very low bar.

What is it this time that plagues Prof. Langdon? Why, the world is about to be plagued with a disaster unless the professor, aided of course by yet another pretty woman, can uncover the hidden secrets of Dante's Divine Comedy, Dante's mask and a Botticelli painting of Dante's Inferno. Along the way, we learn how overpopulating is crushing the planet and how a school of thought exists that wants to take radical measures to change the lopsided balance so lamented by Malthus.

It isn't really important how bad a writer Dan Brown is or how ludicrous the plot is. the only thing that matters is whether this book promises some light entrainment along with some interesting lessons in art history. On those two counts, Inferno scores.

Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn's cleverly written novel, starts strong, then descends into everyday American psychopathy

Gillian Flynn's wildly successful novel, "Gone Girl" is the story of marriage, of betrayal (as if there are any other kinds of stories of marriage) and of the "one-upmanship" that often serves as the only consistent theme of most marriages.

However, it also is a compelling story of the changing economic times that are rendering most "non-technical" jobs of any profession almost completely useless. People who write about art but not about the technology of art or people who want to write commentary on modern times but not necessarily with some technical fulcrum will soon find themselves not only unemployed but unemployable.  A certain kind of vocation has just disappeared into the digital bits of the internet. And people who practiced that have really no where to go. And then when you lose your job in the mid-thirties and have nowhere else to go what do you do but either give up on life or pick up a fight with the most convenient target: your spouse. Helps keep things interesting.

Gillian Flynn's book features two despicable characters who pit against each other in an entertaining tale of suspense and intrigue. The story is brilliantly written and there is a lot to like until about half-way through. It descends into your everyday American psychopathy that so rules TV. Then it sorts of tries to figure out what to do with itself being too clever for its own good. And Flynn seems to lose interest or probably aims for literary credibility by providing a half-baked, inconclusive and ultimately lazy end.

Gone Girl is still worth reading, not so much for the suspense or the thrill of it but for the clever writing. 

Death Comes to Pemberley: P.D. James's dated, drown-out addendum to Austen's Pride and Prejudice - adds murder but hardly any intrigue

I'm not proud of the fact that I'd have been quite prejudiced and probably not read this book had I known that P.D. James is 91 years old. However, it would've been a good thing had I known.

Jane Austen's greatly celebrated work is now 200 years old. I guess that gives everyone a free rein to write postscripts, addendums, sequels and whatever else they can get away with to the famous classic.

For stomachs not hardened enough, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies won't do so we now have Pride, Prejudice and Murder in Death comes to Pemberley. And it is for tender stomachs. It moves slow and belabors. Long conversations in old language. And the murder? Well, yes, there is a murder but no intrigue. There is a mystery but nothing mysterious.

Note to self: Don't read a book just because there is a murder in it!