Chasing the Thrill by David Barbarisi is a true story of real life treasure hunting. The treasure hunt idea began with Santa Fe art dealer Forrest Fenn. Diagnosed with cancer in 1988, Fenn came up with an idea: he would stash treasure into a box, leave clues behind to it’s whereabouts, hide it, then kill himself. Whoever found the treasure would also find dead Fenn’s body.

Forrest underwent surgery for his cancer and began taking steps to fulfill his plan. He spent $25,000 dollars for the treasure chest, started filling it with loot and writing the secret clues. What he never foresaw was beating the cancer! Instead of killing himself, he spent the next 20 years filling the treasure chest with valuables. In 2010 he hid the chest. The treasure hunt began and this book chronicles those who were chasing the thrill!

book review chasing the thrill by daniel barbarisi; forrest fenn

Three Reasons Why You Should Read Chasing the Thrill

1. Chasing the Thrill

Few people can boast of being a treasure hunter. Fewer yet can boast of being wealthy enough to fill a treasure chest for someone else to find. Daniel puts us into the world of the hunters and into the hider, Forrest Fenn. The ups and downs of hunting for treasure, the toll it takes on families, the controversy of the hunt and Forrest Fenn are all fascinating. Ultimately, what will have you reading on the edge of your seat is wondering just who is it that finds this treasure? Is it the author, a newcomer to the hunt? Is it a major player in the hunt? Or is the treasure found at all?

2. Well Written

After reading the Prologue and several pages from Chapter One, I thought to myself, “This guy is a good writer.” Barbarisi’s writing ability is one of the aspects which make Chasing the Thrill such a good book. He planned his thoughts and chapters very well. Everything is placed perfectly like a fiction book’s three act structure. It works because like fiction, fact can be mysterious and interesting when told by a skilled writer. Somewhere near the beginning chapters we learn of Daniel’s prior work as a writer for The Wall Street Journal. His experience served him well!

3. Reads like fiction

Chasing the Thrill is part biography, part auto-biography and both read like fiction. The story opens with Daniel’s introduction into treasure hunting with his friend Beep. In the first few pages we feel the excitement of the hunt, deflation in defeat, and hope for the future find. From there the book weaves personal experience with background on Forest Fenn and all things surrounding the treasure hunt. It is written to be a fast reading book even through pages of information regarding treasure hunt in general.

What’s not to like about Chasing the Thrill?

I’ll admit to having one major reading flaw: I skim pages. I don’t do it intentionally but have an uncanny knack for knowing when I see something important verses excess information. I was really into the book when chapters 9, 10, and 11 showed up. All three of these chapters were unnecessary in my opinion.

Chapter 9 told the stories about major Forrest Fenn bloggers, their different points of view, their feuds, and fans. Chapter 10 told the story about a real life treasure hunting family and Chapter 11 was about “Fenntubers”. These Fenntubers each told their stories on YouTube and much like the bloggers, had different points of view and feuds.

In Barbarisi’s attempt to chronicle everything Forrest Fenn, he probably could not leave out these major players. I felt it was not necessary to include non-important characters and ideas at this point of the story. It did not further the plot.

I skimmed all three chapters and found nothing was needed to understand the rest of the book.

Why did I give Chasing the Thrill 5 Stars?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I gave Chasing the Thrill 5 Stars because it was a very interesting story and well written. Before this book, I’d never even heard of Forrest Fenn or known about a treasure chest hidden out West. I must have been in an information bubble! In the middle of reading, I mentioned this book to a friend who said, “I’ve heard of that. I think the treasure was found.” To which my arms went flailing and plugging my ears I said, “I don’t want to know! I don’t want to know!” And I really didn’t. For this book had become like a mystery novel with it’s own cast and crime of sorts. Try as I would to solve it, the who done it remained elusive. The only way left to solve it was to read on until the end.

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“Every book, old or new deserves a chance to be seen.”

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