Dan Brown takes on Dante

Dan Brown released his last novel, The Lost Symbol, in 2009. (Associated Press)

Bestselling author Dan Brown's highly anticipated new novel is due in May, and the subject will be legendary Italian writer Dante, publisher Doubleday announced Tuesday.

Fictional Harvard symbologist and religious iconology expert Robert Langdon (the protagonist in Brown's blockbuster books Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol) will be called upon once again to investigate a mystery in Inferno, which is a reference to part of Dante's well-known and widely researched epic poem Divine Comedy.

"Although I studied Dante's 'Inferno' as a student, it wasn't until recently, while researching in Florence, that I came to appreciate the enduring influence of Dante's work on the modern world," Brown said in a statement. "With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm ... a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways."

Brown's massively popular Da Vinci Code books, full of religious mysteries, puzzles, and conspiracies, were adapted into films starring Tom Hanks as Langdon. The books and movies attracted criticism from religious groups that claim elements of the story misrepresented Christianity and the history of the church.

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