Clearly, Janet Maslin isn’t terribly au courant with the publishing industry. Granted, reading all those books for review is enough to eat up anyone’s time, but I can’t help but be a touch embarrassed for her – or perhaps more accurately, her editor at the daily arts section – for assigning her the obligatory, now very much stale-dated “look at all those people ripping off Dan Brown!” trend piece. Julia Navarro, Steve Berry, Matthew Pearl, David Stone, William Dietrich, Val McDermid, Guilio Leoni and Michael Palmer are many of the authors namechecked in the piece, and all will (and should) be grateful for Maslin’s attention, but a quick check at the last 6 months or so of Publishers Marketplace’s deal database reveals the truth: nobody’s buying this stuff anymore.

Which makes Maslin’s assertion that THE SOLOMON KEY is “hotly anticipated.” Okay, I suppose it is for the millions of readers who devoured THE DA VINCI CODE, but if anything, it’s the inevitable backlash (and equally inevitable poorer sales, because TDVC set up expectations that cannot possibly be met) that causes anticipation among slightly crabby prognosticators like me.