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Treasure Hunt : Lescroart's Latest Is a Treasure But not Literary Gold

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As a general rule, all of John Lescroart's novels take place in San Francisco, and all of them center on an attorney named Dismas Hardy. But there are exceptions to all rules and every once in a while Lescroart strays from his narrow path and shines his literary spotlight on another character.

In his most recent character departure, Lescroart focuses on Wyatt Hunt, a private investigator who runs an investigative business known as "The Hunt Club." He has conducted work for Hardy in the past.

In Lescroart's latest novel Treasure Hunt , the story is still set in San Francisco, but the central character is Mr. Hunt. One of his office workers, a young man named Mickey Dade, discovers the body of a city activist. This man's name is Dominic Como and he had become famous for his work conducted on behalf of non-profit organizations. It is clear to Dade that Como was murdered and his body dumped in a swampy area, and this turns out to be true.

Later Mickey meets a beautiful young woman named Alicia who was Como's driver. She enlists Mickey's help as she thinks she may be implicated in the murder. Mickey takes the matter to his boss and convinces him to help Alicia. He also thinks it will be good for "The Hunt Club" as business has not been good lately and this investigation will bring them some much needed publicity.

The solution as to who killed Como and why makes up the heart of the story. In true Lescroart fashion. the story pans out in a logical manner. This however is one of the few times the crime and its solution in Lescroart's book are not totally compelling. All of the details are right and the characters involved are interesting but something is missing.

Generally, when you read John Lescroart you become caught up in the world of San Francisco. You are transported to a place where the weather is cloudy and cool. You learn about the different haunts of the characters as well as the many restaurants where they dine. You get a look at the political world Lescroart creates and the pubs where many of the meetings and conversations between characters take place. You are totally there and you enjoy the place as much as the plot. But not this time.

This time you feel like a visitor, and I don't know why. Maybe it is because you don't have Dismas Hardy to lead you around, or to any great extent Wyatt Hunt. This Mickey guy is an unknown factor and he does not capture the reader's imagination as quickly as other characters have.

There is also the fact that much of the plot of Treasure Hunt depends on your knowledge of events that took place in The Hunt Club. That book had characters that are shadows in the new novel, and actions that impact Hunt as well as Mickey and his sister Tara. You get an indication of what happened in the past but not the full force of it.

I am a big fan of John Lescroart and I enjoyed this latest book. It was a homecoming of sorts and a chance to renew ties with old friends. Still I didn't have as much fun as I had anticipated and I missed visiting with Dismas Hardy.

Treasure Hunt is worth your time, but its entertainment value is not as great as you get with other works by this highly talented author.

Treasure Hunt is published by Dutton. It contains 357 pages and costs $26.95.

Jackie K. Cooper - www.jackiekcooper.com