In Search of Coronado's Treasure
Oklahoma University Press
Literature and Fiction: Historical Fiction, Mystery: Historical
August 28, 2013
Available in: e-Book, Trade Size
Life couldn’t be worse for archaeology grad student Jim Hunt. Having lost his funding at a major midwestern university, and his partner, he desperately needs a breakthrough to revitalize his work and his life. Could a summer dig in map-dot Lyons, Kansas, jumpstart his fledgling career? Out of options, he packs his bags.
Five hundred years earlier, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado faces a desperate journey of his own through New World terrain. He must find the legendary golden city of Quivira. But can he trust the mysterious “Turk,” his Indian guide?
Jim and Coronado’s stories interweave in The Dig, intersecting at a fateful point.
Things don’t improve for Jim with his first steps in Lyons—and his trespass upon an ancient mausoleum. His curiosity angers the locals—including Eva, a striking but no-nonsense museum worker Jim is instantly drawn to. A local tough, Mitch Keeper—enforcer for a reclusive, wealthy landowner—seems to go out of his way to harass Jim. The sheriff thinks nothing of throwing him in jail. And then the seemingly innocuous dig turns deadly.
It’s not much better for the conquistador. After days of wandering through dusty lands with no food or water, Coronado and his men are dying. Still, the Turk beckons them on. To continue means death. But to return empty-handed is equally unbearable . . .
Sheldon Russell ratchets the tension and mystery in both narratives as Jim and Coronado close in on—or are eluded by—what they seek. Along the way, the author’s research and craftsmanship shine through. Coronado’s carefully rendered, formal speech contrasts with the casual dialogue authentic to the plains today. Even minor characters, from Stufflebaum, Lyons’s prankster taxidermist, to the inscrutable Turk leap from the page. A historical fiction thrill ride that builds to an Indiana Jones-style standoff, The Dig forces its characters—and readers—to grapple with an age-old proverb: all that glitters is not gold.
Dr. Russell published his first novel, Empire, in 1993 with Evans Publications, Inc. He followed that suspense novel with two historic frontier titles—The Savage Trail (Pinnacle Books, 1993) and Requiem at Dawn (Pinnacle Books, 2000). Requiem at Dawn was a finalist for Best Original Paperback in the 2001 Western Writers of America, Inc., Spur Awards competition.
In 2006, the University of Oklahoma Press released Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which was selected as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project. It won both the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction and the Langum Prize for Historical Literature. With The Yard Dog: A Mystery (Minotaur Books, September 2009), Russell introduces the Hook Runyon series. The first book finds Hook investigating a murder at an Oklahoma railroad yard near a German POW camp during WWII. The Insane Train, second in the series, was selected as one of the six best mysteries of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.