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Dan Brown’s Secret Service Legend Debunked

Seth Mnookin, tidying up some loose ends from his Vanity Fair feature on Dan Brown, finally scores convincing evidence that one of Brown’s most familiar anecdotes is probably a lie. Brown has claimed several times that his first novel, Digital Fortress, was inspired by a visit that Secret Service agents paid to Phillips Exeter (where Brown was a teacher) in 1995 to interrogate a student who, as he described it in his witness statement during the Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial, “sent a private email to a friend saying how much he hated President Clinton and how he thought the president should be shot.”

“I looked into this claim and couldn’t find any evidence that the Secret Service had ever visited Phillips Exeter,” Mnookin writes on his blog. “But it took until last week before the Secret Service confirmed that they have no record of the incident Brown claims inspired him.” How do you like that?

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