Cave of Secrets. By Hal Burton. Lilliwaup, Washington: Hal Burton Publishing, 2002. 224 p.
Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.
Place, specifically the Olympic coast “north of Grays Harbor County, where US Highway 101 turns inland and most of the coastal region along the shores of the Pacific is accessible only by old logging roads and hiking trails” plays a major role in this regional novel. According to the book’s Prologue:
It is speculated, though never proven, that the first explorers to the coastal region of Washington were monks from China. Several accounts have been found in Chinese court records that tell of missionary trips to the Aleutian Islands and as far south as Baja, California.
And on one of those mythical accounts, dating from 499 AD, hangs this tale of adventure and treasure. First off, the story briefly recreates the actual expedition, and what it might have been like for those early intrepid travelers from another continent. Then we shift rapidly to 1981, as Chuck Coolridge, UW PhD student in ancient Chinese history, having found some tantalizing historical records in Taiwan, mounts an expedition to try and locate any possible remnants of the original expedition these many hundreds of years later.
Further complicating the story is the mystery, never solved, of a young man who went missing on the very same stretch of Olympic Peninsula coastline back in the late 60’s. Two of his friends from the time, being familiar with the area, are recruited to help with the current search. Throw in a nosy Seattle newspaper reporter, and a spy working for the current Chinese government (!), and these disparate factors combine for a fast-paced adventure story.
Libraries and librarians often tend to look down their collective noses at self-published books such as this one, and not entirely without justification. While the writing in this book does not always measure up to sophisticated reader’s expectations, the intriguing nature of the story line soon draws the reader in, and the action and suspense carry you on through.