Treasure of the Blue Whale by Steven Mayfield
Publisher: Regal House
Published: 1 April 2020
Genre: Fiction, Americana, Historical fiction
Available: Paperback, Kindle
Reviewers Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Plot in brief (no spoilers) : Told from the vantage point of eighty years, this is the richly layered story of ten-year-old Connor O'Halloran, his family and the residents of a small seaside town north of San Francisco during the Great Depression. On a beach ramble with lighthouse keeper and curmudgeon Angus MacCallum, young Connor finds, what the town believes to be, a massive piece of ambergris. Miss Lizzie, the smartest woman in town, values it at several million dollars. When he decides to share his fortune with each member of the town, except the disliked, wealthy, conniving, immoral, Cyrus Dinkle, Connor sets in motion a chain of events that tears at the fabric of their close-knit community. Dinkle, denied his share, offers the townspeople an advance on their soon to be riches; madness ensues. Connor and his core group of level headed adult friends, the Ambergrisans, must save their neighbors from the greedy Dinkle and themselves.
The Characters: Prepare to fall in love with Connor and the residents of Tesoro. They leap from the pages of this book. Funny, smart, scary, crude, cranky, caring, the townspeople present a colorful cast of characters.
Connor's mother is a sympathetic single woman struggling to deal with a debilitating mental illness. Connor, despite his tender years, is protective of her and his younger brother Alex. In this simpler time, the town wraps a protective wing around the O'Halloran family and ensure that the boys are well taken care of. You will cheer for them, laugh at them and feel sorry for them. Each character has his own story to tell and the author does this with a deft hand.
From naughty Capuchin monkeys, Chinese child brides, steely-eyed Russians, sex-pot shysters, there is no end to the entertainment offered by the inhabitants of Tesoro.
The Writing: The writing is wonderful; funny, charming, engaging. The pace is fast, the editing perfect. With zippy dialogue and an keen sense of the human condition, the narration will keep you turning the pages.
Overall: I thought this was a fantastic, timely read. The story pulls you back to a time when people really did know their neighbor, helped when help was needed and worked together for the common good. It reminds me of the movie A Christmas Story, not just that it is told by an old man about his younger days, but the yearning for those simpler days. There's an Opie and Andy feel to the story that leaves the reader with a nostalgic longing for an America that no longer exists, if indeed it ever did.
Treasure of the Blue Whale is a lesson, for Connor and for us on the dangers of wealth and the foibles of human nature when we seek happiness in things and not each other. Connor learns the value of friendship, community and love. The book is a perfect reminder of what we once were and what we could be, if we could just learn how to be kind again.
I give this book: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
1 Star: Not good at all, do not read!
2 Stars: Read only as a last resort, no other books available
3 Stars: Good, enjoyed it, will recommend with reservations
4 Stars: Really good, read this book!
5 Stars: So good, I might read it again sometime! Highly recommend