The website of The Lost Symbol offers this teaser: “9.15.09: All Will Be Revealed.” Until that date, we can only rely on the publisher to keep us informed with hints about Dan Brown’s long-anticipated follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, in the form of “cryptic tweets” and Facebook messages.

Virtually no one knows the specifics of The Lost Symbol—the team at Random House’s Doubleday imprint is relying on Brown’s already-loyal following, rather than advance praise from reviewers, to create buzz for the new thriller. Thus, the books are on lockdown until September 15. With an initial print run of 5 million copies, the book will represent the largest first printing in the history of Random House—and the company hopes it will be a publishing sensation, especially after several years of delayed release dates. Considering that The Da Vinci Code has sold 81 million copies worldwide, and its movie counterpart made $750 million, the odds are good that The Lost Symbol will land a long-term spot at the top of bestseller lists.

A little guesswork à la symbologist Robert Langdon can give us some clues as to the plot of The Lost Symbol, promised by Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, to be “a brilliant and compelling thriller.”

From the publisher, we know that the novel will portray 12 hours of Langdon’s life in Washington, D.C., and the plot will revolve around the Freemasons, an organization that Brown has called the “oldest fraternity in history.”

We also know that Brown’s original title for the book was “The Solomon Key.” The Key of Solomon is an important symbol in Freemason rituals. For those who want to learn more before The Lost Symbol arrives in bookstores, check out Cracking the Freemason’s Code : The Truth about Solomon’s Key and the Brotherhood by Robert D.L. Cooper, a Scottish Freemason and historian who provides an inside look at this secretive organization.

The “cryptic tweets” from the Twitter page of The Lost Symbol are nothing if not  . . .  cryptic. These short messages include questions and puzzling clues. Examples include the query “How could a precious stone burn 20 years of Isaac’s research?” and a link to an article about Robert Hanssen, a double agent who spied on the FBI for the Soviet Union and Russia. One tweet promised to reveal Langdon’s next adversary once Dan Brown’s Facebook page reaches 100,000 fans. (At press time, there were just over 60,000.)

The Facebook page for The Lost Symbol offers equally baffling tidbits, such as a link to an article about ancient pyramids with the comment that “the pyramid is a highly celebrated symbol in Freemasonry.”

And then there is the novel’s cover. The American version features the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., lit up against the background of a large red wax seal. Embedded in the wax is an unidentifiable symbol. The U.K. and Australian cover differs slightly in that the Capitol appears below a Masonic key. There have been many theories tying the Freemasons to our nation’s capital—including speculation that the streets of Washington, D.C., were planned to physically mirror important Masonic symbols. It’s also interesting to note that one of the most famous Freemasons is none other than George Washington, for whom the capital city is named.

Stephen Rubin, a former president of Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, has implied that there is special significance behind the publication date of The Lost Symbol: “Dan Brown has a very specific release date for the publication of his new book, and when the book is published, his readers will see why.”

The Key of Solomon, pyramids, important dates and an FBI spy—all in a 12-hour period of time? All in a 528-page novel? Until September 15, we can only guess whether these clues make direct references to events in the novel, or simply allude to greater themes. According to Jason Kaufman, Brown’s editor, the novel will show us “an unseen world of mysticism, secret societies and hidden locations, with a stunning twist that long predates America.”

Mehta insists that Brown’s novel is “well worth the wait.” In the meantime, we can download The Lost Symbol’s countdown widget online, re-read The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons and brush up on Freemason conspiracy theories. And get lots of sleep. For millions of booklovers, the evening of Tuesday, September 15, is shaping up to be an all-nighter.  

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