Book Review: The Last Treasure Hunt

LTH_cover_s

The Last Treasure Hunt, by Jane Alexander, explores the lure of fame and the capricious nature of celebrity. It lays bare the personal cost, and the impact on family and friends, when one man succumbs to the draw and deceits of a publicity dependent lifestyle.

Thirty year old Campbell Johnstone works as a barman in a rundown Glasgow pub. He shares a decrepit flat, owned by his financially successful brother, with his cousin Roddy who is studying for a PhD. When Roddy is offered a paid fellowship in America it hits Campbell that all of his family and friends are making something of their lives, all except him. In a maudlin state he Googles the name of the most outwardly successful of the lot of them – Oscar nominated actress and old childhood friend, Eve Sadler.

The gossip hungry internet informs Campbell that the Hollywood star is currently filming at a location in his home city. Campbell and Roddy decide to gatecrash the site and, somewhat to their surprise, succeed in getting through. Eve recognises Campbell and agrees to give him the number of her hotel, where they meet for a drink. A careless update on social media is followed by a brief kiss, and the trajectory of their lives is changed.

Campbell is thrown into the limelight. For a brief period every tabloid newspaper is clamouring for his story, doorstopping his flat and his parents’ home in the hope of gleaning exclusives on Campbell and Eve’s relationship. Their mothers had been friends and the families had holidayed together when the children were young. The papers see the potential for a lucrative love story of the sort their readers will lap up.

Campbell makes the decision to play along, selling exclusive rights to the lie the papers seek. His burgeoning bank balance enables him to paper over the cracks forming in his friendships as a result of his actions. He employs an agent, moves to London, and begins to believe in his own worth. It is only when he veers off the course dictated by his relationship with Eve, to establish a reason why he should be regarded in his own right, that he realises how fragile this gilded lifestyle is.

Although straplined ‘A Modern Media Morality Tale’, this story is not preachy. Campbell is foolish but all too believable. He allows himself to be sucked into an industry created to feed the insatiable appetites of a public hungry for real life fairy stories, where the players are either heroes or villains, a role must be played, and attention spans are short. He is naive in imagining that his part is anything more than temporary. He suppresses thoughts of the cost to others, the hurt he inflicts in order to fan the flame of his fame.

I enjoyed the structure of the story, the way snapshots of the childhood holidays were interspersed with the contemporary action. The author has drawn the petty cruelties and self centredness of children to perfection. The cast is ordinary, neither poor nor rich, overly successful nor downtrodden. It is conceivable that this could happen to someone each reader may know.

The catalyst for the action and the denouement required some literary licence but worked well enough. Campbell was foolish but not evil, insensitive but not mindfully cruel. It would be good to think that he could learn from this experience and be more satisfied with what he has. Perhaps that is harder than it seems for all.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Saraband.

A literary treasure hunt

Today I am delighted to be revealing the eighth clue in the Jane Alexander Treasure Hunt.

Read on to find out how you can join in the fun.

Clue 8

An act of violent vengeance sees

A local gangster plummet

Decades on, a similar fate

Awaited this brutalist summit.

#treasurehunt

 

How the hunt works:

  • Each clue refers to a landmark or iconic location in a film. The landmark/location is the answer – when you figure it out, make a note of it!
  • (If you need a hand, check out the #treasurehunt hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for a hint to the landmark’s location…)
  • Clues will be revealed by some fantastic book bloggers from March 26th until April 21st. Keep checking back on Jane Alexander’s dedicated treasure hunt page (click Join the hunt) or on the #treasurehunt hashtag for links and new clues.
  • When all the clues are revealed, the first letter of every answer will make an anagram. Solve the anagram and you have your final answer!
  • Email this answer and all the landmarks you figured out to hermes@saraband.net by April 30th to be entered into the prize draw. Two entrants will win a signed copy of The Last Treasure Hunt – and if you’ve guessed the most landmarks and locations, you’ll win a goodie bag and something special from Jane personally! On top of that you’ll get bragging rights on Twitter and we’ll publicly dub you queen/king sleuth.
  • Good luck!

 

The  Last  Treasure  Hunt  –  a  modern  media  morality  tale      

LTH_cover_s

At  the  age  of  thirty,  Campbell  Johnstone  is  a  failure.  He’s stuck  behind  the  bar  of  a   shabby  pub,  watching  from  the  sidelines  while  everyone  else  makes  a  success  of  their   lives.  The  most  visible  is  Eve  Sadler,  a  childhood  friend  and  rising  Hollywood  star. When  Campbell  tries  to  rekindle  their  relationship,  he  longs  for  the  glitter  of  her   success  to  rub  off  on  him,  but  a  single  shocking  night  –  the  novel’s  shattering  twist   delivered  with  a  knockout  punch  –  changes  everything.  Campbell  is  about  to  discover   the  bittersweet  taste  of  fame,  and  in  the  process,  struggle  to  save  his  soul  and   overcome  his  own  self-­‐delusion.   The  Last  Treasure  Hunt  explores  our  obsession  with  fame  and  celebrity  with  great   intelligence  and  sly  wit  –  it’s  a  modern  media  morality  tale  with  bite.

JaneAlexander2

Jane Alexander’s short stories and creative non-fiction have been widely published in a number of anthologies and literary magazines. A winner of two major national story competitions, and the recipient of a Scottish Arts Council New Writers bursary, Jane is also a lecturer in creative writing at the Open University.