Author Dan Brown. File photo: Jeff Christensen

IT has been four years since readers were last sucked into the mysterious world of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.

But he will reappear in May when Dan Brown releases his new novel, based on the hidden clues in medieval poet Dante’s ‘Inferno’.

His first book since The Lost Symbol in 2009 is named after Dante’s poem and will be set in Italy.

Its title was revealed on Mr Brown’s website in puzzle form. Every time a Twitter user tweeted ‘#DanBrownTODAY’ a tiny piece of the puzzle appeared, until a mosaic was created spelling out ‘Inferno’. Like The Da Vinci Code, which was based on theories about the secret history of the Mona Lisa, ‘Inferno’ will examine the deeper meanings of Dante’s poem and its influence on modern life.

It is thought the author could inflame religious controversy – as he did with The Da Vinci Code when he suggested Jesus and Mary Magdelene had had children – by expanding on Dante’s criticism of church leaders.

‘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,’ Mr Brown said.

‘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.’

The author’s editor Jason Kaufman said: ‘When we turn the first page of a new Dan Brown novel, we step into a world that seamlessly infuses fascinating history, art, symbols and puzzles. In Inferno, we have the added excitement of following Robert Langdon back to the heart of Europe, where he becomes entwined in a mystery that has global ramifications.’

Four million copies of Inferno will initially be published in the UK, the US and Canada on May 14. The book will be the fourth in the series featuring protagonist Robert Langdon, which started with Angels and Demons in 2000, followed by The Da Vinci Code in 2003 and The Lost Symbol in 2009. Mr Brown’s has sold more than 200million copies of his novels, including 80million copies of The Da Vinci Code. - Daily Mail