Dear Mr Brown,

In the midst of the present media frenzy it will probably not surprise you that your book is being read here. I am myself, like the evangelist Luke, more one for ‘eyewitnesses and ministers of the word’ than works of fiction; but I congratulate you on making so much from so little (even though it was with considerable help from Messrs Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln). You have clearly been laughing all the way to the bank, past the Royal Courts of Justice.

For the record I have no offspring, legitimate or illegitimate; and the nearest I have every been to France (despite having real and devoted friends there) is my recent and belated appearance at the Cannes film festival.

Frankly I am not particularly worried to have been dragged by your lust for lucre into dubious and suspect company – Merovingians, Parisian Surrealists and other Eurotrash. One who has in her long career been turned into a workhorse on the feminist bandwagon and called a prostitute by a Pope quickly develops a thick skin. But, careless as I am (from my position among the redeemed in Christ, a witness to his resurrection, the equal of the Apostles) I believe I have a duty to ask you to consider the damage you have done to the Truth, and to the little ones of God who are in search of it and who long to follow in its path.

You will accuse me of inexcusable piety; and your wife and ‘researcher’ (as I gather) will have even choicer words for me. But you have been culpably disingenuous. ‘All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.’ Indeed! You knew that statement to be fraudulent when you wrote it, and you do not need a letter from me to point out the fact.

I think I would rather be thought a prostitute than mistaken for you.

Yours very sincerely,

Mary of Magdala