Dan Brown's 'Inferno': Will its sales live up to his previous books?

Dan Brown's new novel, 'Inferno,' will star protagonist Robert Langdon and focus on Dante's 14th-century epic poem of the same name.

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    Dan Brown's new novel 'Inferno' will be released May 14.
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Talk about blazing hot.

We’re not just talking about Dan Brown’s forthcoming novel, “Inferno,” the author’s fourth and highly anticipated book in the Robert Langdon series – we’re also talking about its sales, which are expected to be smoldering. 

“Inferno” hits shelves in the US and UK Tuesday and booksellers, many of which enjoyed brisk sales from Brown’s previous three novels in the series, are bracing for blockbuster sales.

“This should be the fastest and biggest selling novel of the year – it's hard to see how anything could beat it,” said Chris White, a fiction buyer for the UK’s Waterstones chain, according to media reports. “It'll be a huge hit now and throughout the summer, then see another peak at Christmas. It could well be No 1 on 25th December.”

If Brown’s previous novel sales are any indication, that’s not hyperbole.

Since its 2003 publication, the “Da Vinci Code,” the second novel in the Robert Langdon series, has sold 80 million copies, spent more than a year atop the New York Times bestseller list, and was made into a hit movie starring Tom Hanks. “The Lost Symbol,” Brown’s most recent work, sold more than half a million copies in its first week on sale in 2009.

Though it hasn’t yet been released as of Monday, “Inferno” is already No. 1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list. Its hardback and Kindle editions are also in first and second place on its preorder chart. UK bookseller Waterstones told the Guardian that “Inferno” received the largest level of customer pre-orders since JK Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.”

(And, as the UK’s Independent pointed out, “It has already had the honor of dragging its Medieval namesake, the 14th-century Italian poem by Dante Alighieri, to the top of Waterstones’ poetry bestseller list – whether because people are interested in the new novel’s origin, or by mistake it is not clear.”)

All this in spite of minimal information about the actual book, much of which has remained a secret.

What we know: The book again stars Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon as he takes “a journey deep into [the] mysterious realm” of Dante’s Inferno in Florence, according to the sole interview Brown gave to the UK’s Sunday Times ahead of the novel’s publication. He also promised this would be “the darkest novel yet.” 

The subject, Brown told the Sunday Times, “is so vibrant and so horrifying that it does a lot of the work for me. I'm not writing about the masons and ancient histories, which is kind of ethereal. I'm writing about Dante's vision of hell.

“It wasn't until the 1300s and this version of Inferno that it became terrifying. Dante has had enormous influence on the Christian view of hell.” 

Which, apparently, spurs sizzling sales in the 2010s.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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