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Angels & Demons    by Dan Brown order for
Angels & Demons
by Dan Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2003 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Dr. Robert Langdon is jarred from a sound sleep by Maximilian Kohler, Director of CERN, a massive and highly secretive nuclear research facility in Switzerland. The facility employs the world's top scientists and Kohler informs Langdon that one of his most brilliant physicists, Dr. Leonardo Vetra, has been murdered and his research stolen. Langdon can't begin to understand what physics has to do with his specialty, symbology. Kohler proceeds to reveal the brand burned into Dr. Vetra's chest - ILLUMINATI - Langdon is horrified but also fascinated. This is the first concrete proof of the existence of the Illuminati.

Within hours, Langdon and Vittoria Vetra (daughter of the murdered scientist) are bound for the Vatican in search of a missing canister of antimatter. They have barely arrived when an Illuminati spokesman announces that the canister is indeed hidden somewhere beneath the Vatican and will implode in four hours. To make matters worse, Papal elections are in progress, and somehow four Cardinals have been kidnapped from under the very noses of Vatican security. Now it becomes a race against time to contain the antimatter before it destroys Rome, and also to find the missing papal candidates before they're murdered one by one. Armed only with his knowledge of ancient symbols, Langdon (with Vittoria's help) begins a frenzied hunt through ancient texts, catacombs and Roman streets to locate the centuries old Illuminati lair.

Modern day terrorism and ancient religion meet head on in this sizzling thriller. Though it often defies logic or belief, Dan Brown manages to make the story work. Breakneck pacing, nice characterizations, and an intriguing look into the archaic inner workings of the sprawling and secretive Vatican and the Catholic Church, push this story to exciting limits. I was a bit disappointed when the major villain's motivations turned out to be a cliché and simply too grandiose for a single man to pull off. But that won't stop me from giving Angels & Demons high marks as one the most gripping thrillers I've read in a good long while.

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