Bestselling writer Dan Brown unleashed his latest page turner today as eager fans made Inferno an instant chart-topper.
The writer, whose sales have already exceeded 200 million with his previous novels, has published his latest thriller starring Harvard professor Robert Langdon.
But despite a history of strong sales, his new adventure has once again come under fire for the novelist's literary abilities, with one reviewer calling it his worst book yet.
Brown's new work sees Langdon in a number of Italian cities, and other European locations, as he tries to stop the spread of a deadly virus.
It managed to top the Amazon book sales chart on the strength of its pre-orders , which were 24% higher than those for his previous book The Lost Symbol which was published in 2009.
Many had bought digital versions of the book which were delivered to e-readers such as Kindles at midnight when the book officially went on sale.
The Waterstones store in Piccadilly, London, opened at 8am this morning with buyers queuing outside to get hold of their copy.
Amazon said interest in the new book has had a knock-on effect for Brown's back catalogue, with sales for his books rising by 340% year on year as anticipation has grown.
The audiobook version of Inferno - which takes themes from Dante's Divine comedy - also topped the iTunes audiobook chart this morning for a version which weighs in at more than 17 hours.
Although reviewers were in no doubt that readers will lap the book up, they were scathing about the writing on show.
Jake Kerridge in the Daily Telegraph said: "As a stylist, Brown gets better and better: where once he was abysmal, he is now just very poor."
And he added: "In the end this is his worst book and for a sad, even noble reason - his ambition here wildly exceeds his ability."
The Daily Mail called it "bilge, but one hell of a page turner".
The Guardian said the book was "engineered with miraculous efficiency, a tasty cocktail of high culture and low thrills".
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