The Treasure of the General Grant
by Brian Wilson
Ingram Spark

"He was never one to disclose secrets, not even on his death bed."

The novel opens with a scene of Uncle Henry, a treasure hunter, telling his nephew, Robbie, a bedtime story about a ship, the General Grant. Robbie asks what happened to the treasure when the vessel sank in 1866, but his uncle doesn't say. On that suspenseful note, the book jumps ahead to Uncle Henry's death. By now a New Zealand sheep farmer in the sleepy town of Gore, Robbie is his uncle's sole beneficiary. Suspicious that the older man found the ship's treasure, Robbie's inheritance rides on answering his boyhood question.

Trying to determine whether his grandfather acquired the ship's treasure is as difficult and dangerous as a deep-sea dive around the Auckland Islands where the General Grant sank. Robbie must navigate the murky waters of chaotic big cities where his uncle's greedy solicitor and shady accountant have their offices. He seeks out his uncle's secretive treasure-hunting partners in exotic Bali. Meanwhile, Robbie's friend Colin, a police officer, encourages him to watch his back wherever he goes. Colin warns Robbie that Gore's robber-turned-pastor and an itinerant worker on Robbie's farm are both likely targeting Robbie for his probable gold. All of these vibrant characters, developed through colorful physical descriptions and lilting dialogue—including some in the Maori language—create a high-seas drama played out on land.

The tension surrounding the General Grant's treasure increases via Robbie's personality quirks. His adventures in Bali, Christchurch, and Auckland are seen through his paranoid perspective. He calls traveling "boring" in contrast to his preferred routines—sheep shearing, fence mending, enjoying "a cuppa," and fixing his machinery. But the "boring" farm becomes a clever ruse when a final showdown takes place there. The last chapters are bursts of energy, adding a crime-thriller punch to this historical fiction account.

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