Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt

Knopf. May 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780525656173. $28. BIOG
After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, art dealer Forest Fenn published a clue-riddled poem in 2010 that promised to lead to a treasure chest filled with gold, diamonds, and jewelry worth millions of dollars. Presumed to be hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, NM, the successful treasure hunter would find not only Fenn’s valuables but his corpse as well. Despite the diagnosis, Fenn slowly recovered. The hunt continued, gaining attention with articles, websites, and interviews with Fenn himself, attracting hundreds of thousands of seekers to Santa Fe over the next several years. Dissecting and following the poem’s clues alongside treasure hunters, and through direct access to Fenn and his inner circle, author Barbarisi (Dueling with Kings) takes readers on a journey that reveals the dark side of the hunt: dangerous obsession, the lengths some are willing to go to become rich, and the controversial past of Fenn himself. The author’s accessible narrative follows the treasure-hunting community, from amateur seekers skilled at smaller hunts, to enthusiasts connecting with each other on the search for riches and fame.
VERDICT Reminiscent of Douglas Preston’s adventures, this modern-day treasure hunt is an entertaining thrill ride.
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