Joe Dante is a Boston PD who is hot on the trail of a drug dealer, Filippo Argenti, whom Joe feels is responsible for the death of his daughters and wife. But, finds himself in Hell, or is told so by a man named Virgil. Virgil tells Joe he is there to help Joe through Hell and hints that he does not belong here. But Joe thinks Virgil must be a little crazy for thinking they are in Hell, as he is hot on the trail of Argenti. Joe goes to the ends of Hell, seeing different sins and the torment of the sins and even helps a few people along the way while trying to find his family's killer. While on his journey for vengeance, Joe helps a few people learn of and how to help themselves. On this journey Joe starts to think on the sins he sees and in talking with the ones he helps, starts to see or learn...
Dante's Journey is based off of the classic, Divine Comedy. I thought, at first, some of the sins where not really sins to justify what the people had to live with for eternity. Then I reminded myself how this story is in a different time, 1960's, and the sins where different then. Boy have things changed. I also realized as Joe talked to these people and went through his journey, that it wasn't necessarily what they did as it was how they felt about it and not admitting to the guilt that placed them where they were. And even though Joe is from 1960's he is told repeatedly that time moves differently in Hell. You start to see that time is moving faster in the "real world" as opposed to Joe's time in Hell because the author uses many major events in American history - both distant and closer past times - to bring the story to us.
You get the current story of Joe going through Hell and learning many things. But you also learn of the past, what ended Joe here in Hell, through memories and flashbacks. As the journey in Hell moves forward from where Joe starts in Hell, you also get the story of Joe and his family before he died through to where he dies. It is almost like two stories that meet in the end.
The journey is a straight forward one that I enjoyed, I didn't have to keep notes and I enjoyed that. This read is not a lot of action but more a journey to find one's true self and even beliefs and faith. I have to say I Loved the irony in all the torments in Hell with the relation to the crimes. At times I thought Joe was a little narrow minded or childish-like, BUT I do understand he had one thing on his mind, and well if the same person kept showing up as being the one the fingers pointed to as the killer of my whole family. Well, I would probably track him down in Hell as well with nothing but sweet revenge on my mind.
In the end, it was a fun read and I do have to say I liked how the journey made me think on what we do to others and ourselves. And Virgil... I was suspicious of him through the book. Why was he to help Joe through Hell? I just wasn't to sure about him, but in the end I enjoyed the way his character played out. There was usage of religious thoughts along with some sensitive issues of the past years. I think there is more to the book than just a quick read and be done with it. This is also a read that is different from my other fantasy reads. It's not a story with magic, good and evil. This is a different angle through Hell.