Brown, whose novels have sold 200 million copies worldwide, returns to Western Europe for his latest blockbuster, featuring protagonist Robert Langdon on the run while attempting to prevent a deadly virus from spreading across the world.
Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells told Reuters: "We think it's going to be the fastest and biggest-selling book of the year because Dan Brown is in a league of his own."
But will it live up to the hype? Here are what the critics make of it so far:
The Guardian: "Brown's prose style retains its much-loved originality ("a powerfully built woman effortlessly unstraddled her BMW motorcycle"), and the story is engineered with miraculous efficiency, a tasty cocktail of high culture and low thrills. The pages fly by. Only lunatics would begrudge the blockbusting bard's determination to popularise great Italian poetry."
The Telegraph: "Dan Brown's take on Dante's 'Inferno' is the thriller-writer's most ambitious novel yet — and his worst."
The Independent: However barmy his premises, however leaden his prose, Brown retains all the advantages of surprise.
The Financial Times: "Inferno reads less like a novel than a 'treatment' for a thriller film. To help unsophisticated readers, Brown writes like a tour guide, ever anxious to stress the fame of the places and art treasures we glimpse along the way."
The Washington Post: "...at times the book’s musty passageways seem to be not so much holding history up as sagging under its weight. Narration appears lifted from a Fodor’s guide, as when Langdon pauses in the middle of a life-or-death escape to remember the history of a bridge: 'Today the vendors are mostly goldsmiths and jewelers, but that has not always been the case. Originally the bridge had been home to Florence’s vast, open-air market, but the butchers were banished in 1593.' It’s like trying to solve a mystery while one of those self-guided tour headsets is dangling from your ears."
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