THE GOLDEN SPIKE by Ted Morrisby


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This first novel by an Australian TV journalist finds its inspiration in a real life occurrence: the sinking in 1866 off the Auckland Islands of the General Grant, an American ship carrying nine tons of gold--the greatest lost treasure in history. Sad to say, there's no gold for the reader here--just tin characters, lead dialogue, and a plastic denouement. In the present day, documentary videomaker John Barr (""handsome in a rugged, battered sort of way"") decides to find and film the General Grant and its treasure. He probably couldn't do it on his own, but--what luck some people have!--before long he seems to be possessed (the narrative is a bit ambiguous here) by the spirit of James Teer, one of the few survivors of the shipwreck. With the aid of Teer's rather blustery spirit, and a Maori woman with the wonderful name of Wild McFee, Barr soon locates the treasure on an unoccupied Auckland Island. A strange South American named Jorge Ogilvie then enters the picture, first lending Barr money and then attempting to steal the treasure to finance anticommunist forces in South America! After various noisy doings, including a preposterous encounter with a barge of Vietnam refugees and an attack by Tai pirates, Barr (or is it Teer?) and Wild wind up adrift in the Pacific. Morrisby crams his story with tidbits about New Zealand history, foods, weather, and so on--but odd facts do not an exciting narrative make. The plot drags along from Hong Kong to Taiwan to Tonga--but odd locales do not. . .etc., etc. Despite the extensive information about sailing and the sea, don't bring this one to the beach with you--unless you plan to fall asleep and develop a tan, the only hint of gold this novel can supply.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Taplinger