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Literary Fiction
Treasure of the Diary
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Treasure of the Diary

Tom Collins

In September of 1864, a gang of Confederate irregulars stormed a Union train and made off with half a ton of gold which they buried somewhere in Asheville, North Carolina. Late in the winter of that year, Corporal James Donaldson Walker, one of the few surviving robbers, was captured by Union soldiers and was sent to Ship Island, a prisoner of war camp about twelve miles off the coast of Mississippi. The pure white sand of the island's beach as seen from his prison ship melted away Walker's fear of imprisonment. But the illusion was quickly shattered by a smell as foul as any pig farm mingled with that of dead bodies. To maintain his sanity, he secretly began recording the plight of prisoners-brutally harsh conditions, bad water, starvation, disease, and general miseries all suffered under the callous indifference of their guards. Yet, there were occasional moments of happiness in an otherwise hopeless place. When Corporal Walker fears he will not live to enjoy freedom, he reveals a secret in his diary, one he had pledged to take to his grave.

More than one hundred and fifty years later, three Nashville college students find the old, tattered journal. Sensing that the book will lead to an adventure, they use ultraviolet light to bring the faded cursive writing to life. They discover the secret in the diary, and their find sends them to Western North Carolina in search of the stolen Civil War gold. The students have technology on their side-a drone, deep seeking metal detectors, and even an exotic gravity device that can find caves and underground vaults. Despite their high-tech equipment recovering the gold is not that simple. Their initial effort fails, and they realize that there is more to the diary's secret than first appeared.

The adventure takes a sinister turn when one of the students disappears. The others call for help. Mark Rollins arrives and is joined in the search for the student by two tough looking men dispatched by the missing boy's uncle, a former Czech mobster turned Miami real estate tycoon.

Things get dicey when the students discover that they are not the only ones after the gold.

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