America’s most extraordinary treasure hunt began in 2010 when Forrest Fenn, an 80-year-old art dealer from Santa Fe, hid an antique chest stuffed with gold, jewels and antiquities somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. Fenn’s memoirs and a six-stanza poem served as the treasure “map.” Solve such obscure clues as “begin it where warm waters halt” and the lucky finder would be in a possession of a treasure worth more than half a million dollars.
Seven years later, journalist Daniel Barbarisi learned about this unique treasure hunt from a friend. Intrigued, he decided to write about the enigmatic Forrest Fenn and immerse himself in the world of treasure seekers. What better way to learn about treasure hunters than to hunt for the treasure himself? Little did Barbarisi know he was about to be ensnared in the obsessive world of Fenn hunters, where it was as much about conspiracies and controversies as it was about finding the treasure.
Chasing the Thrill by Daniel Barbarisi is one of those enthralling nonfiction books that really has it all. The inscrutable and eccentric Forrest Fenn is a book in itself but Barbarisi also writes of other famous treasure hunts, such as the search for the Atocha. Then you have Barbarisi’s own hunt through the wilderness of New Mexico and Yellowstone as he gets caught in the excitement of potential solves. Finally, there are the obsessive Fenn fans, who despite bankruptcy, divorce and the death of fellow hunters, can never quit the thrill of the chase.