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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 20:56 GMT
Expectations dashed by legal reality
David Sillito
BBC News arts correspondent

Dan Brown is a master of exciting, fast-paced prose with each chapter ending in a cliff-hanger. But in court after a few hours of evidence the girl to my right had fallen fast asleep.

Dan Brown
The author avoided photographers on his way in to court

This was a day of high expectations dashed by legal reality.

So for the first fifteen minutes of the day I couldn't even get in to a packed court 61.

I was with a small posse of journalists from around the world begging to get in the room.

But, as the reality of the day's evidence began to emerge, the hearing began to become slightly less crowded.

There had also been disappointment outside London's High Court.

The photographers and camera teams had arrived early to get pictures of Mr Brown's arrival.

However, as he mentioned in one of his witness statements he had been 'jostled' on the first day of the case and had this time walked in through a side entrance.

Long debate

On the witness stand he looked far from the 'jostled' and 'harassed' author of his witness statement.

Once the cross-examination began the notebooks began to droop
Tanned, smiling and confident, he appeared just what a multi-millionaire author should.

But once the cross-examination began the notebooks began to droop.

It began with an interchange about his computers and then carried on with the details of how his wife, Blythe, would pass on information to him and how he would disagree with her over what was included in the book.

The day carried on with a long debate over notes in margins, and when exactly he found out about each piece of information that appeared in the Da Vinci Code.

It was all important stuff to work out when exactly Dan Brown got to know about information that appeared in the book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail but it wasn't the gripping court room drama the journalists had been hoping for.

'Hard to read'

However, the 69 pages of his witness statement made fascinating reading.

It is a masterclass for anyone who might want to write a blockbuster.

The plotlines and claims of both books are once again front page news

He explains how he looks for his themes, that he often writes his final chapter first, and that he then tries to get his characters to reach that endpoint within the 24 hours within which he sets his books.

It also explained that it is his wife, Blythe, who came up with many of the ideas of the Da Vinci Code and passed them on to him as he carried out his research.

But when it came to the key issue of the case, the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, he was keen to say that although it had been important for publicising ideas that appeared in his book, he himself hadn't got the ideas from it.

Indeed he said he hadn't even finished the book which he said was "hard to read".

However, he had acknowledged the book's importance by mentioning it in the Da Vinci Code.

But he added, there were many other more important books that he'd turned to before he'd ever got to hear about the Holy Blood.

Speeding car

While it may not have been a thrilling day in court there were dozens of journalists from around the world all filing stories back.

Dan Brown
A fan approached Mr Brown for an autograph after the proceedings

The plotlines and claims of both books are once again front page news, and it was Robert Langdon, the hero of the Da Vinci Code who said publishers were always pleased when a book made it in to the papers.

Meanwhile, Dan Brown left court in his speeding car and this time the photographers who sprinted alongside were able to get one of two snaps of the author.

He might not have enjoyed being jostled on the first day, but today, he was wearing a beaming smile.


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