Speaking of mysteries, I myself am totally enthralled by the idea of The Clock Without a Face. The book is brought to us by McSweeney’s — you know, the brainy Dave Eggers and company. Though The Clock Without a Face itself is a picture book, the mystery should certainly appeal to adults: the story, about a clock (the “Emerald Khroniker”) with emerald numbers stolen from its face, contains clues that point to 12 real-life, number-shaped emeralds that are buried across the country. I’m convinced they won’t stay buried for long. Already, there are wikis and message boards and Twitter feeds devoted to the hunt.
Of course, the idea isn’t wholly original. These “armchair treasure hunts” have been around for quite some time. In fact, in 2004 another Westchester author named Michael Stadther self-published A Treasure’s Trove, a similar book with clues that directed puzzle-solvers to 12 jeweled insects. The hunt went off without a hitch, all 12 insects were found, and a book of the puzzle solutions was released. (One was found at the James Baird State Park in Dutchess County.) Unfortunately, a follow-up did not fare as well. Secrets of the Alchemist Dar, a sequel book that contained clues to one hundred real colored diamond rings, did not immediately sell as well as it predecessor. According to the Westchester County Business Journal, this lead publisher/distributor Simon & Schuster to use “Chapter 7, Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code as a means to force his hand to pay $1,961,257.80 of what it says it is owed or go into bankruptcy.” According to Luxist, the hunt was called off and the rings were put up for auction.
Does that bode ill for The Clock Without a Face and its emeralds? We hope not. After all, since Dave Eggers has a Superhero Supply Store and Nonprofit in Brooklyn, it’s not a far off bet that one of those emeralds will be buried somewhere in New York.
Are you, or have you ever been, an armchair detective? Let us know your progress — or just your favorite mystery — in the comments.