Now, the publisher is hinting that a manuscript is close. "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," says Stephen Rubin, president of Bertelsmann's Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, whose Doubleday imprint publishes Mr. Brown. Mr. Rubin declined further comment.
What date could that be? Since some of the leaders of the American Revolution were masons, including George Washington, an obvious reference point would be July Fourth. In addition to it being Independence Day, the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4, 1848 in a ceremony hosted by the Freemasons.
There are other more obscure dates that could be significant, however: On Sept. 18, 1793, President Washington led a Masonic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. It is considered one of the most important events in Masonic history. A third choice? The cornerstone of the White House was laid on Oct. 13, 1792, during a Masonic celebration. (On that date in 1307, the King of France ordered the arrest of Knights Templar. There has been speculation connecting the Knights and the origins of the Masons, although the matter is in question.)
Mr. Brown's income from all four books, including "The Da Vinci Code" and revenue from the film, has made him a rich man. Forbes magazine estimated Mr. Brown earned $88 million between June 2005 and June 2006, minus management, agent and attorney fees. Dan Burstein, editor of the best-seller "Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code," thinks Mr. Brown may have earned as much as $250 million to $300 million from all related properties.
"The Da Vinci Code" was also criticized for factual miscues; this time, he may be taking particular care. "He has toured a number of Masonic temples to get the historical facts correct," says Akram Elias, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia.
The Masons are a fraternal society dedicated to self-improvement and charitable works. Membership is open to all religions and political parties. Although Mr. Brown portrayed the secretive Roman Catholic group Opus Dei in a negative light in "The Da Vinci Code," Mr. Elias says he isn't worried. "Freemasonry will survive Dan Brown," he says.
One of the Masonic Temples Brown toured was the one in Salt Lake City. But the Mormons better watch it, because he made an extensive tour of the Mormon Temple there as well, noting the great similarity between Masonic and Mormon symbolism.