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."
Robinson was so incensed by the 'The Da Vinci Code' he felt compelled to edit and narrate a full rebuttal of the book which aired on Channel 4. Brown's book relies heavily on the existence of a secret society called the Priory of Sion. Robinson managed to find someone who assured him that entire thing was a hoax dreamt up by his father. Or in his words, "piffle". <strong>Total number of peeved</strong>: 1
This incredibly powerful chap ruled over the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD. 'The Da Vinci Code' purports he destroyed early Gnostic Christian gospels that portrayed Jesus as merely human in order to create a demigod inspired form of Christianity with which he could unify and rule his kingdom. If this is the case, he'd probably prefer it was kept quiet... <strong>Total number of peeved: 2</strong>
Rushdie was not a fan of Brown's novel, not one bit. He said of it: "Do not start me on 'The Da Vinci Code. "A novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name." Perhaps Rushdie was just jealous Brown's controversy was overtaking his own 'Satanic Verses' as the literary furore to end all furores... <strong>Total number of peeved: 3</strong>
Without doubt the best verbal onslaught over Brown's novel came from Stephen Fry. In prose which surpassed any of that found in the book, Fry described it as "complete loose stool-water" and "arse gravy of the worst kind". <strong>Total number of peeved: 4</strong>
Famed horror novelist tried valiantly to top Fry's remarks but could only muster "intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese". Good effort, but lots of people actually like Kraft cheese, a hell of a lot more than arse gravy anyway. <strong>Total number of peeved: 5</strong>
Lewis Perdue & Baigent and Leigh
Brown faced two lawsuits alleging he had plagiarised previous works. Both failed. <strong>Total number of peeved: 9</strong>
Perhaps unsurprisingly France doesn't feature too heavily in the Bible. One tenuous claim the Land of Egalatie had was that the 'historical' Jesus (as opposed to the one inclined to resurrect and the like) actually came to France with Mary Magdalene and had a child. In the intense scrutiny of the aftermath of 'The Da Vinci Code', many people poured scorn on such theories thus ridiculing France's link to a Christian past. <strong>Total number of peeved: 65,436,561</strong>
The Catholic Church
This is the biggy. Unsurprisingly, Brown's vision, fiction or not, of a bloodline of Christ that fundamentally undermines the Church's teachings did not go down too well. The Church felt compelled to speak out against the book calling it "shameful and unfounded lies". <strong>Total number of peeved: 1,200,065,436,561</strong>
Can He Annoy Off More Than 1.3 Billion People With His New Book?
It's going to have to be a titanic effort - but there are some possible shortcuts...
Rather than the Catholic Church Brown could instead choose to target Islam whose 1.62 billion members would easily take him over his last target.
India Or China
A country-based approach could help him. India's population of 1,241,491,960 or China's 1,344,130,000 would be enough.
A study in 2007 warned of thee impending crisis caused by the rapidly proliferating number of Elvis impersonators on the planet. A third of the world's population would be snaking their hips by 2019 apparently, more than enough for Brown.
There aren't enough gingers in the world for Brown to repeat his feat. With only an estimated 97.5 million of them he would fall far short.