Faced with bankruptcy after a series of disastrous investments, Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, America's favorite writer, books passage on the riverboat Horace Greeley to give a series of moneymaking lectures. Clemens also has a self- assigned secret mission: the recovery and proper disposition of a $10,000 cache of gold from Napoleon, Arkansas (a treasure described in Twain's own Life on the Mississippi). It promises to be an exciting trip for Clemens and Wentworth Cabot, the naãf who's stumbled straight out of Yale College into a job as Clemens's new secretary--especially when the two learn, on the eve of their departure from New York, that an old acquaintance of Clemens's--river pilot, actor, and gambler Farmer Jack Hubbard- -has been found murdered with a note addressed to Clemens in his pocket. Followed to St. Paul by a suspicious New York City police detective, the pair embarks on the Horace Greeley, a storybook vessel filled with cardsharps, pool hustlers, pesky reporters, sweet young things, and a stalwart crew--none of whom, like the dead man himself, are quite what they seem. A debut novel that deftly dovetails flavorsome riverboat lore, unobtrusive period detail, and a hidden treasure with an intricate mystery--all to give peppery, lovable Sam Clemens a starring role in a case worthy of the old inimitable. The first of a planned trilogy by longtime Kirkus reviewer Heck.