Dan Brown’s much-anticipated new book to hit shelves
New York – The books are under guard, the plot's secret, the author silent, but all that will change when Dan Brown's latest conspiracy potboiler, The Lost Symbol, is unleashed Tuesday.
Extraordinary measures have been taken to keep the sequel to 2003 mega hit The Da Vinci Code under wraps, right down to posting guards in book warehouses.
But much as in Brown’s tangled — some say nonsensical — plots about secret societies, the Catholic Church, and symbologist Robert Langdon, not everything is as it seems.
The secretive treatment is all part of a huge publicity campaign reaching fever pitch 15 September, as Doubleday publishers try to repeat the success of the Code‘s record-setting 80 million sales.
Five million copies have been printed and, in a bold step, an e-version of the novel will be released on the same day. Pre-sales have already rocketed The Lost Symbol to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Expect a PR blitz from Tuesday, including a rare appearance by the reclusive American writer on NBC television.
But for now, silence — or at least talking loudly about being silent — is golden.
NBC’s Today Show reported that anyone coming into contact with the book at Doubleday has had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, while copies of the finished product are literally under lock and key.
"We have closed circuit TVs that are monitoring the books at all times in a secure area that is also guarded," said Jacqueline Updike, at Random House, parent company of Doubleday.
The cover of the book, third in a series featuring Langdon, shows the Capitol in Washington and a wax seal containing a double-headed phoenix, the numeral 33, and the words ordo ae chao (Latin for order to chaos).
The design supports rumours that Freemasons are at the heart of the story.
But beyond these titbits, and the revelation by Brown’s editor Jason Kaufman that the narrative takes place in a 12-hour period, almost nothing is known.
Speculation, fuelled by specially seeded clues, is raging on Facebook, Twitter and Widget accounts linked to the book and author.
However, the clues are reportedly concocted by employees who have not actually read the book and are therefore of limited value.
"Felled in 6 days at a church of sound," a recent Twitter entry says. "At the head of the Niagra, Parade of Dark Horses."
Similarly, the author’s site www.danbrown.com provides only the barest biographical information. Instead, you are invited to play "the symbol quest," a game of guessing which of a collection of esoteric symbols fit in a compass-like circle.
If Brown’s financial success seems predictable, so does the reaction his new work is likely to provoke around the world.
Serious literary critics have long been horrified by what they consider Brown’s appalling writing. Salman Rushdie famously said The Da Vinci Code is "a novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name."
The Vatican accused The Da Vinci Code and multitude of spinoffs, including a popular film starring Tom Hanks, of anti-Catholic prejudice.
But fans are salivating in anticipation.
"Already booked advanced copy since I am in India waiting for three extra more days to read your book," a Widget message from Pavan Kumar on the book’ site reads.
"When are you due in London to sign copies?? Can’t wait!!" writes Boe Locks from London.
They’ll have to wait.
As the official site says by the ticking clock: "All will be revealed".
AFP / Expatica