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Dan Brown’s new book comes out on May 14.

JOHN SCHULTS/Reuters

The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's new novel will be published on May 14, his publisher, Doubleday, said on Tuesday after a social-media puzzle worthy of the writer helped to reveal the title.

Inferno features the return of renowned Harvard symbologist and The Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon, and is set in Italy, centring on the literary masterpiece Dante's Inferno, Doubleday said. It will have a first printing of four million copies.

"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 on his website.

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"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," he added.

The Da Vinci Code, a religion-themed mystery novel riddled with codes, keys, conspiracies and other puzzling symbols, was published in 2003 and was made into a hit film starring Tom Hanks. It spent more than a year atop the New York Times bestseller list.

His next book, The Lost Symbol, followed in 2009.

In keeping with Brown's love of puzzles, the book's title was revealed on his website as fans and others posted items on social media that linked to a mosaic on the site. As posts were made, pieces of the mosaic were revealed, eventually uncovering the title.

Inferno will be published in Britain on the same date by Transworld Publishers, a division of The Random House Group.

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