THE LAST TREASURE Is Summer Reading's Last Pleasure

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper

When you read some novels you feel like a distant observer; with others you feel you are close by and are able to overhear the characters' words and see the events as they happen. In some very rare instances the reader feels he/she becomes a part of the plot. That is the case with Erika Marks new novel THE LAST TREASURE. While reading it I became immersed in the story and felt I was at least a side character. I imagined myself the clerk in the stores where the characters shopped, or a waiter at the restaurants where they ate, or even a member of the crew on the ships they sailed. I was there.

The plot in which I participated tells the story of a woman torn between two men. Olivia, or Livy, loves the wild, non-conformist Whit; but she also loves the calm, more thoughtful Sam. Both men love the fact she is an adventuress. She has grown up caring about the lost ships that supposedly are at rest in the depths beyond the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One ship, the "Patriot", is almost an obsession with her.

The "Patriot" went missing in 1812 after leaving Charleston, South Carolina. One one its passengers was Theodosia Bur Alston, the daughter of Aaron Burr. Many thought the "Patriot" was caught up in a storm and sank with no survivors. Others premised it was boarded by pirates who took Theodosia prisoner. With all her heart Livy wants to know what happened to the ship and to Theodosia. Both Whit and Sam have promised to help her solve the mystery.

Marks really involves the readers in the conflict in Livy's heart as this rational young woman tries to figure out which man she truly loves. At the start of the story she is married to Whit, but almost immediately Sam re-enters her life after a long separation. At this time Livy feels she can be true to her husband and still be a friend to Sam. Whit and Sam have also had a long relationship as friends and co-workers.

Of course there are complications, there have to be complications, and soon Livy is thinking perhaps she made the wrong choice. Sam of course plays up his best features while Whit inadvertently presents himself at his worst. Livy's choice is not an easy one to make.

A lot of the story is told through flashbacks. This seems to be a popular way of writing these days. With me it soon loses its freshness and becomes an obstruction to the flow of the story rather than a bonus. I liked this story a lot but I would have liked it even more had it been offered in a linear fashion. Still the skill with which Marks presents her characters and the magic with which she pulls the reader into the story are amazing. You don't just read this story, you live this story.

Summer days are winding down and reading THE LAST TREASURE is one of the best possible ways to finish it off. One more book, one LAST TREASURE.

THE LAST TREASURE is published by NAL Accent. It contains 384 pages and sells for $15.00.

Jackie K Cooper