I ask the question in complete seriousness as the Coded Court Case in London continues to reveal a best-selling author who relied heavily upon the research of his wife, Blythe (see this article from Reuters and my earlier post). And while Mr. Brown might be enigmatic, his wife is even more mysterious and camera shy (although caught on camera on occasion), as Reuters notes:
She has not appeared in court and little is known about her. Yet the mysterious figure of Blythe Brown has loomed over a plagiarism case in which her famous husband, Dan, stands accused of copying from another book to create his best-selling thriller "The Da Vinci Code". In Dan Brown's main witness statement, Blythe's name is mentioned in over one quarter of its 219 paragraphs.
More importantly, Brown's explanation of when and how he drew upon HBHG continues to be hazy and less than convincing. The March 15, 2006, edition of The Times reports:
Mr Brown at times appeared to be on the ropes under the cross-examination of Jonathan Rayner-James, QC, counsel for the claimants, who wanted to know why his copy of HBHG seemed to have many more page marks, underlinings and turned-up page corners than most of his 40-odd other source books.
Ah, Mr Brown said, most of these would have been done by his wife after DVC was published. During promotional tours he was being asked so many detailed questions that he asked her to give him a refresher course on the facts of DVC. And, he conceded, HBHG was an excellent source of basic facts on early Christian history. Mr Brown was exceedingly vague on the dates of his own writing history, but he strongly denied a suggestion that he had read HBHG before even writing the synopsis for DVC; he had, he said come to it late, after the storyline of DVC had already been assembled. The ideas for the plot had come from other books such as The Templar Revelation, which he freely admits drawing on.
He indeed drew heavily upon The Templar Revelation (TTR), especially for his novel's many claims and remarks about Leonardo da Vinci and his artwork. In fact, it's not too much to say that nearly all, perhaps all, of the content about the Italian painter and those paintings of his discussed in the novel — Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, The Virgin of the Rocks (two versions, one in London and one in Paris) — come from the 1997 book by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, who have written various books on the occult, esoteric history, and paranormal activites (see chapter 9, "The Code Puts on Artistic Errors," in The Da Vinci Hoax, pp 240-79).
And it's also fair to say that Brown relied nearly as heavily on HBHG for his claims about early Church history, Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Emperor Constantine, and the Priory of Sion, as he did on TTR for statements about Leonarodo. But there is a further problem:
From the bench, Mr Justice Peter Smith did not appear entirely to believe him. “It says in The Templar Revelation that HBHG is essential reading [for anyone interested in the the theory that Christ married, had children and that his bloodline still lives]. Are you asking me to believe that you did not read it? How could you have missed it?” the judge asked.
Mr Brown replied that The Templar Revelation had given him everything he needed to write his synopsis; at that stage he was interested in the broad picture, not the details.
But the authors of TTR actually dismissed much of what HBHG had to say about the Priory of Sion, saying that "its explanation of the Priory's aims and motives is basically unsatisfactory" (TTR, p 51). Put simply, Brown uses the HBHG history throughout his novel and relies on TTR primarily, even exclusively, for his statements about Leonardo da Vinci and his artwork. But did he really know or care where the information his wife was giving him was coming from? Or was he content to plug the details he was given into the big picture — his admitted interest?