Garbled Books Publishing House. Daily team meeting.
Hugh Befner, responsible for the mystery novels range ‘Airbored’: Lisbet, you’ve read the latest manuscript by Dan Clown. Could you summarise the story for us? So we can decide whether it’s got any potential? I mean, we do want to top the figures of his previous book, right? I want to know if my next one is a Ferrari or a Porsche.
Lisbet Salamander, head of editing: Ok, no problem.
Hugh Befner: What is the working title of his latest novel, btw?
Lisbet Salamander: The Digital Code of the Lost Goddess
Hugh Befner: And where did he steal his stuff from this time?
Lisbet, indignantly: Dan Clown doesn’t steal. He does research. This time he used Robert Graves and the Michelin Guide, mostly.
Hugh Befner: That first name sounds familiar. Isn’t he in those mobster films?
Lisbet: No, that’s Robert De Niro. Robert Graves has been dead for a while. English writer and poet, died in Mallorca? ‘I, Claudius’ ring a bell, maybe? One of his other books is called ‘The White Goddess’, it’s some sort of poetic essay about female goddesses. You know: Danae, and Isis and so on, right up to Mary Magdalene.
Hugh: Oh, yeah, Clown likes that kind of stuff. He knows most of his readers are middle aged women who are into that new age Celtic crap. Ok, what’s it about this time? More insane codes?
Lisbet: Exactly. The main character is Bert Lankdon again and…
Hugh: Wait! Lankdon? What happened to Dumbledore?
Lisbet: Dumbledore is in Harry Potter. That’s by another writer with another publisher. Clown’s regular guy is Lankdon.
Hugh: Oh yeah, the Noetics professor who wears Burberry trenchcoats, right?
Lisbet: Exactly. Lankdon is taking a break from his last adventure in Turkey and he is staying in a holiday resort in Mallorca. A local policeman discovers the famous Lankdon is on the island and comes to get him to solve a mystery. They’ve found a dead guy on the beach with a fish carved into his chest. It’s not clear how the man died and who he is but the big bullet hole in his head could be a possible COD. Lankton is allowed to have a look at the man’s room and he discovers a copy of The White Goddess hidden in the wardrobe. There are some notes scribbled in the book but they’re in Catalan so Lankdon asks the hotel manager to help him translate the notes.
Hugh: Let me guess, the manager is an attractive woman half his age.
Lisbet: Exactly. Her name is Belen Sobrasada Picata and she is a local woman so she knows the island quite well. She and Lankdon discover the man on the beach has marked a number of passages about Mary Magdalen in his copy of The White Goddess. Lankdon suspects the man discovered Mary Magdalene was hiding a big secret. It must be connected with the man’s death as the fish his chest obviously refers to Jesus.
Hugh: Since Clown’s previous book we all know that the Magdalen had been shagging Jesus, so that’s not a big secret. I’m a bit disappointed about that.
Lisbet: No, the secret is something else, but Graves’ book or the notes don’t say what it is, so Lankdon and Belen decide to drive to Deia, where Graves used to live. They want to see if they can find more clues. When they get there and visit the grave of Graves in the local graveyard they find out someone’s been digging in the ground. Not soon after their arrival a guy dressed in black turns up.
Hugh: Let me guess: it’s a huge tattoed albino guy with a murderous glint in his eye and a Glock in his pocket, and he is a member of a secret organisation.
Lisbet: Exactly. His name is Tom and he tries to kill them. Lankdon and Belen manage to escape but not before Lankdon has discoverd a clue on the gravestone. Three letters that spell E.P.D. which is short for Est Piano Dei. ‘It is the piano of God’. Lankdon remembers from the Michelin guide that the composer and musician Chopin lived on the island too, so they head to Valldemosa, to the house of the artist. They find the piano in one of the rooms and search it for clues.
Hugh: Let me guess. Just when they’re about to find the clue Tom turns up but Lankdon and the girl manage to escape.
Lisbet: Exactly. Just before Tom bursts into the room waving a gun at the screaming tourists, Lankdon manages to pry a piece of sheet music from a crack in the piano stool. Lankdon and Belen escape via a small door which opens up in a narrow alley full of stray cats. While Belen drives the car out of Valldemosa at neck-breaking speed, Lankdon manages to decipher the coded sheet music and discovers what their next location is: Palma’s cathedral. Here they descend into a dark crypt where they find a stone tomb with a large fish engraved on the cover stone. With the help of Belen Lankdon pushes the stone away and discovers the tomb contains the mummified body of a 13th century king. Lankdon starts to search the mummy and he discovers a new clue.
Hugh: What’s the clue? No, let me guess. The king was murdered by an occult organisation because he had been entrusted by his advisor with a secret that would shake the foundations of Christianity if it was made public , which could not be allowed to happen. But while the king lay dying he managed to scribble a secret message on the hem of his shirt with his own blood.
Lisbet: Exactly. Lankdon manages to tear the piece of code from the shirt moments before Tom appears in the church. First Tom sticks out his tongue at some old nuns and jumps on the altar. He kicks the candles away with his heavy boots and shouts ‘It’s better to burn than to fade away’. Next he shoots a hole in the head of a statue of Michael. Then he goes after Lankdon and Belen who manage to escape in the nick of time. Thanks to Belen’s large network of business acquaintances, they manage to hide in the yacht of a rich Saudi Arabian businessman who is holidaying in the harbour with his four wives. While they are sailing out of the harbour, Lankdon decodes the text on the piece of the mummy’s shirt and it’s pointing at a location in Southern France: Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer.
Hugh: Oh, we’re back on the Grail trail. Clever move of Clown. Let me guess, once they are halfway their journey the Saudi Arabian turns out to be the secret boss of the tattoed guy and he locks them up so he can torture them out of their secret.
Lisbet: Exactly. While Lankdon and Belen are awaiting their cruel fate, Lankdon eats the piece of code and Belen manages to steal the mobile phone of one off the guards. She phones an ex-boyfriend of hers who is in the secret service and he comes to save them by helicopter. The guards of the Saudia Arabian businessman shoot several rounds of bullets at the helicopter but they manage to get away unscathed.
Hugh: Is that all?
Lisbet: No. Lankdon is free but he has not solved the riddle yet. The boyfriend flies them to France, to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which is the place where the two Mary’s are supposed to have landed when they fled their home country after the death of Jesus. The code leads them to a local art museum and more particularly to a copy of the Et Ego In Arcadia painting in that museum.
Hugh: Oh, the Rennes-le-Château trail. I didn’t see that one coming. Let me guess, somebody has scribbled a message on the painting in invisible ink.
Lisbet: Exactly. Lankdon manages to decipher the binary message with the help of a smart gypsy kid that hangs around in the museum and can read binary code and happens to have an ultraviolet flashlight in his pocket. The code leads them to an ancient and mystical spot in the UK. Lankdon puts all clues from the Graves book and the other items together and is 99% sure that he is looking for some high tech piece of equipment Mary Magdalene possessed, something she could not possibly have come by in that era.
Hugh: Let me guess, Lankdon goes to Stonehenge which turns out to be a portal to other dimensions. Thanks to his Noetic knowledge he opens the portal with his mind.
Lisbet: Not exactly. Really! Clown’s plots are always realistic and not far-fetched. They go to Glastonbury. Belens ex flies them over in his private helicopter. They look for the location with the help of the code on the painting and the gps of the ex.
Hugh: Let me guess, once they’ve located the exact spot the ex turns out to be a traitor. He says he will kill them both but first he explains in length who he is. He is a high-ranking member of the Illuminati and with the object they’re about to discover he will overthrow the US government and install the NWO.
Lisbet: Exactly. The situation looks bad, but Belen turns out to be a black belt karate expert and efficiently incapacitates her ex with a few good kicks. After that, she and Lankdon dig up a futuristic looking metal case in which they find…
Hugh: Let me guess: a sealed glass cilinder filled with vinegar and bearing a stamp of the Swiss flag.
Lisbet: Not exactly. It’s a video camera. It doesn’t work anymore but there is a small uncorroded SD card in the card slot. Lankdon takes his digital camera and slides the card in. He starts the film and…
Hugh: Let me guess. It’s a video of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Lisbet: No, that was in Das Jesus Video by Eschbach. Really! You know that Clown never plagiarises.
Hugh: Ok, what’s it then?
Lisbet: You’ll never guess. It’s a sex tape.
Hugh: Oh, I didn’t see that one coming. But with whom?
Lisbet: It doesn’t say. The last sentence in the book is a url.
Hugh: Have you tried it?
Lisbet: Yes, but the site wasn’t up yet yesterday.
Hugh: Ok, let’s try it now.
Lisbet grabs her tablet and connects it to the projector. She enters the address in the browser and a black page appears with just a play button and nothing else. She clicks the little triangle in the middle of the screen and the video starts. The whole team watches in silence for several minutes. Then Hugh stammers: ‘Is that who I think it is?’
Lisbet: Yes, it’s Mary. You can tell by her blue headscarf and pink dress.
A long pause follows in which everyone watches the action on the screen in a very embarrassed silence.
Then Hugh speaks again, in total disbelief: Omg, is that just a shadow or does he actually have…… a …… tail?