Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thar Be Dragons...

Every once in a while there’s nothing more fun than to sit down with a good old fashioned romantic suspense, the kind with the damsel in distress (albeit she’s a strong-of-character damsel) and the handsome, misunderstood alpha male. Find one which has a “hidden treasure” at its core, and you’re well on your way to becoming totally absorbed. This week I’m endorsing What She Doesn’t Know, by Lina Gardiner, who lives in my city and just happens to be a personal friend of mine.

This treasure hunting mystery is set on a remote island, a cold island in the formidable Bay of Fundy and comes complete with abandoned buildings, a castle, long lost diary, hidden caves, clues, writing in code and a decades old family secret.

Romantic suspense novels abound. They are everywhere and continue to remain a strong and popular genre. I tried my hand at romantic suspense with my six Harlequin novels, and found it difficult for me, at least, to write. (I prefer writing straight mystery.) Lina does it well, though, and her secret weapon in making this book stand out is that it’s not a murder mystery per se, but rather the search for a priceless artifact. Will the good guys get it before the bad guys do?

The Bay of Fundy is mysterious at its core with its depths and 40 foot tides, so it's the perfect setting. As a sailor and lover of all things boats and water, I know the vagaries of the sea, and we've been on the Bay of Fundy in our sailboat in very calm mill-pond weather, but we have also been out there in storms. One thing that old sailors and new sailors know is that there is no controlling the sea.

It's for this reason that so many of the classic treasure hunt novels are set on the sea, Treasure Island being the foremost. I read it as a kid, mainly because it was supposed to be a “book for boys,” and I was just that rebellious. The black and white movie made of it is freely available on Youtube.

There are three places in this larger world of ours that we know very little about—what’s at the bottom of the ocean, what’s inside the planet we live on and what’s out there past our dome of breathable air. For centuries, for millennia, the sea has fascinated us. We don’t know what’s buried in its depths. Sea monsters? Dragons? Or centuries old treasures left there by sunken vessels? Here is a link to an interesting and beautiful old map from the 1500s.

Another realm we haven’t discovered is what's underneath our feet. We live on the outer surface of this planet we call earth, our home, but have little or no knowledge of what lies beneath. Here’s a recent article about exploration into this realm.

Tolkein has answered that question with his Lord of the Rings, is a classic treasure hunt which takes place in "middle earth."

Who can forget “My Precious” which has become iconic in popular culture as anything we hold on to with greedy and grasping possessiveness.

Treasure books touch us on some deep level and appeal to that part of us that thinks once we get that “thing”, whether it’s the treasure chest at the bottom of the sea, the meteor made of gold, the “My Precious” ring, the lottery win, or the “whatever,” we’ll be happy, prosperous, and everyone will like us. It take years of living to realize that most of that isn't true.

If you want to look at some lists of current and classic treasure hunt novels, here are a few lists from Goodreads. 

Classic sea treasure novels.

Current treasure hunting novels.

What She Doesn’t Know is a great and fun read, so if you are stocking up on summer read books now, add that one to your list.

And be careful - "Thar be dragons there..."

Next time: The Moving Art videos on Netflix 


  1. This is a mutual admiration society because every time I pick up a Linda Hall book I'm transfixed until I reach the end. I'm a huge fan of Linda's writing, both Inspirational and Mystery. If Linda writes it, I want to read it. Thank you for the wonderful review, and for your friendship (which I treasure).

    1. Oh thank you, Lina. That is sweet of you to say. :)

  2. What a fascinating post, Linda! BTW, I concur on your recommendation of What She Doesn't Know. Loved it! Very atmospheric, as well as riveting story-telling. I really enjoyed your discussion of the wider themes, which you don't often see. Keep the recommendations coming!

    1. Thanks Norah! It was fun doing all this research into 'treasures', and why we go after them so much,

  3. I love the location of this book as I am always amazed by the power of the tides, the ominous quality of such dark, deep water.
    Stella MacLean