It must be tough being Umberto Eco. "The Name of the Rose" was a critical success as well as a huge best-seller nearly thirty years ago, and he has found it impossible to reproduce that success since. "Foucualt's Pendumum", his second novel, was the only one I ever read more than once.
"The Prague Cemetery" has been hailed as a return to form. It's certainly a return to subjects he does well - European history, plots, conspiracies and secret societies. But whereas "The Name of the Rose" was written out of his deep knowledge of the Middle Ages and a real and professional interest in semiotics, his new novel has the feel of material conscientiously researched. He's not really at home in the nineteenth century, and it shows. The story rattles along well enough, with plenty of interesting events and characters, but the central mystery (inasmuch as there is one) is not very interesting, and the solution is obvious from the start.
For a book that wears its erudition so heavily there are also annoying errors. The description of the area of Paris where much of it is set (and which I know well) contains odd, unforced errors, and there are a number of translation mistakes, though whether from French into Italian, or Italian into English,is impossible to say.
If Eco had never written "The Name of the Rose" I suspect we would look at this book differently. But he did, and unfortunately, as time passes, there seems little chance of him ever producing something to rival it.