“a superb thriller” —Aditi Saha
The Legend of Waterhole Branch by Lucas R. Wright
In The Legend of Waterhole Branch, 29-year-old Hunter Pierce attempts to escape the clutches of his ruthless Spanish kidnappers convinced that he built a financial empire around the long lost treasure of the revered Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda.
Hunter Pierce is a quantitative prodigy who grew up in rural southern Alabama in the desolate town of Magnolia Springs. His family owned a small waterfront house on Waterhole Branch, a shallow narrow tributary of Fish River that snaked through the hilly countryside. The genesis of the branch was one of the many springs that populated the area and provided Hunter and his two childhood friends, Brian and Camilla, countless opportunities to camp, fish, and explore the swampy wooded terrain that encapsulated the largely uninhabited region. The legend of a 16th-century Spanish treasure, once hidden in Waterhole Branch and lost to time, proves to be a reality. Tragedy displaces the inseparable trio just before high school, and the three friends are led on drastically different paths through life.
Hunter allows his personal tragedy to fuel a search for the treasure while effortlessly graduating from Oxford University with a degree in quantitative finance. Hunter insists his personal wealth is a product of his lucrative Wall Street career, while the Spanish treasure seekers, kidnappers, and self-proclaimed rightful owners of the treasure believe Hunter found the gold.
While developing a plan to escape from his captors, Hunter is reunited with Brian and Camilla in Magnolia Springs 14 years after they last saw each other. The childhood friends test their loyalties before working together in an attempt to outsmart the crew of Spaniards relying on distinct skills each friend refined as he or she got older. Ultimately, the truth about the treasure is revealed as Hunter brilliantly masterminds his escape narrowly avoiding certain death at every turn.