“This novel has been a strange and wonderful journey,” Brown said in a statement. “Weaving five years of research into the story’s 12-hour time frame was an exhilarating challenge. Robert Langdon’s life clearly moves a lot faster than mine.”
The first printing will be five million copies, Knopf Doubleday said, the highest in the publisher’s history, but well below the opening 10 million-plus print run for the final Harry Potter book. The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 80 million books worldwide and inspired a spin-off community of travel books, diet books, conspiracy books, parodies and religious works.
A film version, starring Tom Hanks, came out in 2006. Hanks will again be seen as Langdon when the adaptation of Brown’s Angels and Demons debuts in May.
By Monday, The Lost Symbol was No 1 on the Barnes & Noble.com bestsellers list on advance orders and approaching the top 100 on Amazon.com.
Brown, 44, kept his readers and the struggling book industry in suspense as year after year passed without a new novel. As far back as 2004, Doubleday had hinted a follow-up was coming, tentatively titled The Solomon Key and widely believed to be about Freemasons in Washington, Brown has been spotted in Washington, researching Masonic temples.
Anticipation for The Solomon Key was so high that a “guide” to the novel was published in 2005 and remains in print.
Monday’s announcement did not say where the story was set or who it would be about. In The Da Vinci Code, a murder at the Louvre museum in Paris sets Langdon on an investigation that includes secret religious cults and speculation that Jesus had fathered a child with Mary Magdalene — a scenario that enraged scholars, critics and religious officials, all of it only bringing the book more readers.
Inspired in part by the commercial fiction of Sidney Sheldon, Brown has said he long gave up on the idea of being a literary writer and instead wanted to write novels read by many.