The Dan Brown Code
IT WAS DUSK WHEN FRANCIS STORRS steered his car into Dan Brown’s quiet neighborhood in Rye Beach, about a half-hour drive from Exeter. Brown bought the property for $1.6 million a year and a half after The Da Vinci Code was published. Soon after, he petitioned the town to build a seven-foot-high wall around it.
Forbes magazine estimates that Brown has cleared over $200 million since the publication of the book. To help manage the fortune, he and his wife deputized their personal attorney and others to act as their agents for a number of limited-liability companies. One called Stellata handles books and screenplays. Another, Epilogue, presumably manages the couple’s growing real estate portfolio: According to town records, they have bought up some 15 acres bordering their original one-acre plot. By the end of the year, they hope to move into a massive house they are building even farther back from the road.
On this day, as the evening light faded, there was nothing more for Storrs to see. Brown’s house was invisible from the road, and the man himself had essentially been erased from any document pertaining to it. In his place there stood a real estate trust, its name—like so many things in Brown’s life—fraught with layers of symbolism. It was meant to conjure the Isles of Shoals, an archipelago at the edge of Rye Harbor, the place where legend has it the pirate Blackbeard buried his treasure. And the name also paid tribute to Brown’s alter ego, the hero from whom his own vast treasure derived.
Dan Brown called his property the Isle of Langdonia. And he was its king.
FRANCIS STORRS AWOKE WITH A START.
I almost forgot that Brown’s novels end twice!
He slowly raised his head from his desk. For weeks, Storrs had been trying to sort through everything he had learned about Dan Brown’s life, but now he found himself fixed on something he’d not considered.
Could it be?
There is one idea that Brown returned to again and again: on his website, in public appearances, in court documents…
"I was reminded of the old truism that since the beginning of recorded time history has been written by the ‘winners,’" Brown wrote in his affidavit. History was not set in stone, he figured, but changed depending on who was telling the story.
Like the murmurs of spirits in the darkness, revelations already known echoed.
The quest to understand Dan Brown is the quest to kneel before a mythmaker with the genius to fashion himself into his most compelling character.
Like Robert Langdon in the Louvre at the end of The Da Vinci Code, Francis Storrs fell to his knees (or would have, if he weren’t already sitting down).
For a moment, he thought he heard Dan Brown’s voice…taunting from behind a wall of his own making…whispering from within the cash-lined cocoon of a multibillion-dollar industry of one…Have I got a story to tell you.