The subject of both criticism and controversy, novelist Dan Brown became one of the best-selling authors in history with an ingeniously crafted mystery-thriller. Initially an aspiring songwriter and pianist, Brown recorded several music albums in the early-1990s. Later inspired by the potboilers of Robert Ludlum, Brown debuted with 1998's techno-thriller Digital Fortress. He introduced the character of symbology professor Robert Langdon in the Vatican-set thriller Angels & Demons in 2000, although it and the following year's Deception Point met with only moderate sales. In 2003, Brown returned to Langdon and the themes of secret societies, ancient mysteries and malevolent conspiracies with The Da Vinci Code. This time, however, the mix of religious myth-busting, art history and code-breaking struck a chord with readers across the globe, making the book a cultural phenomenon and Brown an overnight celebrity author. Soon adapted into a feature film, "The Da Vinci Code" (2006) starred Tom Hanks as Langdon, and while it fared poorly with most critics, audiences flocked to the theaters just as they had to the bookstores. He returned to bookshelves and cinemas three years later with the novel The Lost Symbol and the movie sequel "Angels & Demons" (2009), both of which performed nearly as admirably as their respective predecessors. Continuing with the dozen or so Langdon adventures he had planned, Brown published Inferno in 2013. Without a doubt, Brown had become one of the most influential popular writers of the early 21st century.