Dark Gold

Dark Gold

by David Angsten

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312937935
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.67(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

David Angsten was born in Chicago. He works as a writer in Los Angeles. Dark Gold is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt

Dark Gold


By Angsten, David

St. Martin's Paperbacks

Copyright © 2007 Angsten, David
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312937935

Chapter One The Promise The last we heard from my brother Dan was a postcard he sent from Puerto Vallarta. He’d been traveling for three years without coming home, and a card in the mail was the most we’d ever get from him. Every now and then he’d drop a line or two, enough to let us know where he was—and that he wasn’t dead. My mother always had that worry in the back of her mind. She thought he’d get killed out there, looking for whatever it was he was looking for. He had trekked through South America, nearly every country on the continent, mailing local postcards from cities we’d never heard of: Guayaquil, Nazca, Porto Alegre, Belém. We’d check the stamp and postmark, then find it on a map. A year after he left he crossed the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego and sent a postcard depicting the town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
He spent one Christmas in the Amazon jungle with a tribe of Kayapo Indians. We only found out about it with a card from Barranquilla that arrived in early spring. For a time he worked with an “exporter” in Caracas, bombing around town on a Moto Guzzi and dining like a king at the Restaurant Lasserre. When the military clamped down on the Venezuelan drugtrade, he moved into the mountains of Colombia to grow cocaine with a peasant rebel named Carlos Marx. My mother was uneasy, kept waiting for “the call.” It never came, though she found out later he’d been jailed in Bogotá; they sent her a belated notice through the U.S. consulate. After that he kicked around Central America, then worked his way up slowly through Mexico, starting with the Mayan pyramids in the Yucatán, up along the western spine of the Sierra Madres, and over to the resort towns strung along the coast. It was easy to pick up a temporary job: translator, tour guide, tennis pro, scuba instructor. He was just what the hotel managers wanted, a bright, friendly, athletic American, fluent in Spanish, and willing to work for Mexican wages—but Dan would get bored, wouldn’t last long. He’d screw the help, sell some dope, collect his “tips,” and skip out of town. Postcards were sent home to my mother in Hinsdale, or occasionally to me at Grinnell. My brother had a talent for finding odd little photo-cards illustrating his eclectic array of stone-brained enthusiasms: bizarre insects and animals, ancient nature gods, local aphrodisiacs, and the favorite obsession—legendary lost treasures. Dan was a sucker for the dream of buried fortune. He imagined himself a latter-day Lumholtz, leading mule caravans through the Sonoran desert, sipping corn beer with the Tarahumara, hacking up the jungle in search of lost tribes and ancient artifacts. For a while he fancied Mayan relics and actually did join an archaeological dig, but shoveling shit out of pack-horse stalls and grinding coffee for grad students failed to fulfill his Victorian vision of the Grand Expedition. He eventually got himself arrested for trying to unload thousand-year-old Casas Grandes pots to a German collector in Mexico City. He had forged the certificates of provenance; the pots turned out to be terra-cotta knockoffs from Tijuana, aged in an acid bath. He mentioned this in a postcard he sent from Guadalajara. It pictured a dazzling glass-bead jaguar, a god of the Huichol Indians—the ones that do the peyote. No doubt Dan had spent a lot of time with them. The card from Puerto Vallarta was addressed to my mother.
She kept it in a drawer in my father’s rolltop desk, the storage place for everything of importance to her life: mortgage papers, old photographs, stock and bond certificates, long-forgotten love letters, a brass monkey paperweight that had belonged to my grandfather, and all the postcards ever sent by her errant eldest son. Her bony fingers tiptoed through the dog-eared stack of cards, picked out the one from Puerto Vallarta, and offered it up like an article of evidence. I glanced at the picture, a reproduced daguerreotype of a two-masted clipper ship, then flipped it over and checked the printed logo: captain salty’s pretzel sticks. How this little promo card from a snack company in Terre Haute, Indiana, ended up in Mexico, I had no idea. Dan had scribbled a typical line, one that prompted more questions than answers: “I’ve found the mother lode—we’re going to be rich!” He signed it as he always did, D.J., for Daniel James. Dan Duran, the vagabond man. “It doesn’t mean anything,” I told her. I could see she wasn’t sleeping well and feared it was her dreams, the “messages” she said were delivered in her sleep. These were invariably dark and disturbing, full of things you didn’t want to hear at five in the morning as you were heading off to work. My mother was a sweetheart, sensitive and kind, but her psychic intuitions I often found unnerving. She could see shadowy things in me I didn’t know were there. “You’re always running off, John. What are you running from?” This morning I felt her very presence was invasive. She was wearing the same frilly-necked robe she had worn for as long as I could remember. It gave off the scent of a stale perfume that reminded me of something I couldn’t quite recall—or didn’t want to. Why was she always floating in a cloud of that perfume, an aging widow alone in her house? She pointed to the date on the postmark. “That’s nearly four months now, and not a single word.” “It’s happened before,” I told her, though it wasn’t really true. The longest we had ever gone without a postcard was the three months he was locked up in the Bogotá jail. “Something’s wrong, John. I can feel it.” My mother always had feelings about things. Unfortunately the feelings were usually right. “Don’t worry,” I said. “He’s probably up in the mountains with the Indians again. They don’t sell postcards.” She took back the card, stared at the ship. “He’s not in the mountains.” I didn’t think so either, but I didn’t want to admit that anything was wrong, not even to myself. I was always favoring the brighter side of things. “We’ll find out soon enough,” I said. “What do you bet we get a card within a week?” My mother didn’t answer.
She wouldn’t bet on anything, especially on Dan. “When are you leaving?” she asked. One vagabond son seemed torture enough. “End of the month. When we finish Mr. Madigan’s.” My friends and I had at least ten days’ work left, painting the humongous house of my ex-girlfriend’s just-divorced uncle. We’d been painting houses in the western suburbs of Chicago every summer during the last three years of college. Now we had graduated and were at it again, rising every morning at the crack of dawn with dried paint under our fingernails and dull headaches from polyurethane fumes. Faced with an eighty-foot-long, three-story wall of cracked and curling paint, we’d guzzle the Starbucks, suck on a joint, crank up the Goo Goo Dolls, grab our razor scrapers, and go to work. If we had learned anything at school during the course of the year, it was undone by the stupor of those mind-numbing days. I could feel my feeble brain cells slowly burning off. The monotony of mindless work fed a growing wanderlust. We envied my brother’s nomadic freedom and his talent for avoiding manual labor. We began to talk about traveling ourselves, saving up our hard-earned cash and taking off for a month or two. Hawaii, maybe. Or Tahiti. Or Thailand. Or Tibet. None of us was ready to get on with our lives. Duff was putting off law school. Rock had broken up with his girlfriend at Brown and was fully occupied licking his wounds. I was debating graduate school and didn’t want to commit, not yet. What was the hurry? What was the point? The world was hardly clamoring for another grad in English lit. In the dog days of August, dripping with paint-flecked sweat on the second-floor scaffolding of that blazing south wall, an idea swept over us like a blast of arctic air. Why not go all the way? A big trip, the biggest—all the way around the world. Southeast Asia, India, Istanbul, Prague. Start with a month in Hawaii and end with a week in Spain. Four months total, maybe six.
What the hell, maybe a year—who could say how long we’d last? We’d trek the globe until we ran out of money or ran out of luck. This could be our great adventure, a swan song to swift-passing youth, a final stab at freedom, a last hurrah before the curtain fell and the church bells rang and the baby and the bills and the mortgage came due. We began at once to plan and prepare. We bought hiking boots and backpacks, studied maps and guidebooks, scoured airfares on the Web. I sold my trashed-out VW van and traded the cash for traveler’s checks. Rock borrowed his hang-gliding brother’s GPS handset, bought a shortwave radio aptly named the Global Explorer, and ordered a used videocam for a hundred bucks on eBay. With his mind as usual on food and fornication, Duff limited his purchases to a Zebco collapsible fishing rod and a carton of lambskin rubbers. By the time we had finished off the Madigan job, we were ready to pick up the old man’s check, buy our tickets to Honolulu, and kiss the suburbs good-bye. But another two weeks had passed without a word from Dan. My mother awaited the mail in vain. Troubling nightmares ruined her sleep and left her pale and anxious. I found her at dawn on my last day of work, fallen asleep at the rolltop desk. The look in her eyes when I woke her up stuck in my head like a voodoo curse. I had seen that look three years before, on a snowy night in December. My mother had been frightened out of her sleep by a terrible premonition. A few hours later we learned that my father had been killed in an auto crash. An SUV with a drunk at the wheel had slid through an icy intersection and slammed into his passenger door. My dad was riding shotgun and never saw it coming. He was busy talking to the guy at the wheel. The guy at the wheel was my brother Dan. Copyright © 2006 by David Angsten. All rights reserved. 
 

Continues...

Excerpted from Dark Gold by Angsten, David Copyright © 2007 by Angsten, David. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Dark Gold 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love a good thriller, especially if it has an exotic location, a sunken treasure, sexy characters, and all kinds of menace. Dark Gold delivers all the above and more. The story opens with three college grads, Jack, Rock, and Duff, about to embark on a world tour, a last hurrah before they have to get serious about real life. However, Jack's wandering older brother Dan has gone missing somewhere in Mexico. The last anyone has heard from him was an enigmatic postcard from Puerto Vallarta four months ago. So the three friends decide to start their trip in Mexico to hunt down Dan. As readers of The Ruins will attest, these quests never end well. Early on, Jack has a scary encounter with a drug-dealing biker gang. No one will admit to knowing anything about Dan, but Jack does learn the name of a town that doesn't mean anything to him---Punta Perdida. None of the locals are willing to ferry Jack, Duff, and Rock there to investigate, for any price. But fate (and a beautiful woman) leads them to Leo Bellocheque, a wealthy Caribbean Islander with a million dollar yacht and a drop-dead gorgeous crew of two. Leo's intrigued by their story and offers them a lift. Punta Perdida is a dangerous place. The local priest has been deafened and muted. Things aren't looking at all good for Dan. But Jack and his friends soon discover what enticed Dan to this desolate location; the lure of a fortune in sunken gold. Of course, in a place like Punta Perdida, you never know what else might be in the water... I don't want to tell any more, because the joy of a novel like this is the plotting. The story is fast-paced and offered me big, gasp-out-loud surprises right up to the very end. There are definitely elements of the story that are familiar from many other books and films, but Angsten has done a great job making familiar thriller conventions seem fresh and new. A big part of it is the writing, which is way above average. It's a pleasure to read a thriller with a nice turn of phrase and characters with real depth to them. I often felt a desire to learn more about these people and their back stories that wasn't always satisfied. You can't complain too loudly, though, about characters being overly interesting. In the heading of this review I used the words menacing and atmospheric, which sound a lot better than creepy. But the truth of the matter is that Angsten creeped me out. Never has Mexico seemed more foreign or scarier. Seriously, I began to feel a little worried about my own friends down there! And just reading an underwater scene about something that's never seen during an early dive in the novel had the hair on the back of my neck standing up. I read this book in two days. This is good and bad. I want more! I can't wait to see what Angsten comes up with next. What a great new discovery!
the_hag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know, superficially the plot of Dark God rather had the same feel and flavor of a book I read last year...The Ruins...the main difference being that Dark Gold takes place mainly on a boat/in the ocean and not on land. It's got buddies out just out of college (Jack, Duff, and Rock), initially looking for a good time, but when Jack Duran's wayward brother appears to be missing while traveling through South America, these buddies pleasure trip turns into a search and rescue mission. Along the way, they hook up with Bellocheque, a Bahamian business man (and owner of the Obi-Man, a wonderfully luxurious yacht) and his two hottie sidekicks, Eva and Candy. What initially starts out as an adventure to find the missing brother (decided on the toss of a coin) turns into a hunt for missing gold, complete with sea monster and Lovecraftian creepy, xenophobic, isolated village. Dark Gold offers up a lot of plot twists, backstabbing, treachery, deception, and even some traditional Mexican bad guys out to steal the treasure...lets face it this is a summer beach read wanna-be that mixes equal parts historical mystery, horror novel and travelogue, then throws in a dash of romance and just a tiny smidge of thriller and mixes well with the murky water of the deep and ALMOST makes it to a memorable page turner. Overall there was a LOT of build up for not a lot of pay off in this largely predictable novel. I give it three stars, it's entertaining, but not as "page-turning," on the edge of your seat thrilling as I think the author was striving for...it never got up to sizzle for me, it was just too slow moving with the attempts to build suspense and terror and it never quite got there. Additionally the characters were never really developed to their full potential, Rock and Duff were pretty much interchangeable, as were Candy and Eva, there wasn't a whole lot to distinguish and with the female characters, next to NO detail was given about them and other than being competent help (serving food, cleaning up, and doing Bellocheque's bidding) and eye candy, they weren't compelling or sympathetic. There wasn't a character I identified with or felt really deserved to make it through at the end of the book. Jack, Dan (the missing brother) and Bellocheque where the only characters given any decent amount of background...but the attempts to draw out suspense and mystery for Bellocheque ultimately made him a stereotype, cookie cutter character like the rest. In the end, it was an ok read, but I'm glad I got this from the library as I'd be upset if I'd paid hardback prices for a novel that was mildly entertaining at best, there was a lot of potential with all of the elements Angsten laid out, unfortunately when it was all said and done, none of it was terribly compelling or fleshed out enough to merit higher praise for this book. Great bones, mediocre story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
e to write like David Angsten.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading this book after looking at all the reviews and the description of the book. It took me a very long time to get through this book because it just never really picked up pace or caught my attention for very long. The descriptions are very long and unnecessary for this genre of book. When I look back on it not much really happened just most of the book is filled up with these long descriptions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It has aspects of a perfect adventure story are in this,ie. suspense, violence, sex, love, and action. The story is a real pageturner. David Angston has a wonderful way with words. His vocabulary is creative and writing is humorous. I can see this book being a movie with a young Harrison Ford staring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, a thriller that doesn't involve political espionage and fighting terrorists. Great characters and an unrelenting plot that rivets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Dark Gold' was terrific! It is high adrenaline scuba diving adventure. Jack Duran and his newly graduated college buddies travel to the Pacific Coast of Mexico in search of adventure, women and Jack¿s missing brother. They clumsily stumble into every young man¿s wildest dream when they are invited aboard the luxurious sailing yacht of a wealthy Bahamian banker and are entertained by his two alluring and shapely shipmates. But unknown to Jack and his buddies, the suave, sophisticated Leo Bellocheque knows much more about Jack¿s brother and his odyssey than they can imagine. His girlfriend Candy, a buxom, red-headed siren, is a financial whiz from Leo¿s Miami office. She is an experienced navigator, an ace with a magnetometer and a fearless scuba diver. Eva, a ravishing green-eyed Brazilian beauty who likes to show off her stunning figure with string bikinis, is as smart as she is enchanting. She is deceptively athletic and deeply complex. Highly educated and well bred from an upper-class family, her knowledge of maritime history and the details of the sunken wreck are encyclopedic. Like Candy, she too is an expert sailor and scuba diver. But Leo must secure the help of Jack and his friends to find and retrieve the sunken gold. What the young men don¿t know is that the gold carries a terrible curse and is guarded by an enormous, blood thirsty manta ray and by a shaman priest, whose voodoo ceremonies seem to summon the evil beast. Worse, they are hunted by ruthless coked-up hoodlums who will stop at nothing to steal the treasure. Blind greed, hidden agendas and intrigue abound. Written from Jack¿s perspective, the story comes alive with fantastic scenes above and below the sea. The story builds to a crescendo of incredible sexual tension between Jack and Eva, terrifying underwater encounters deep in the dark, silt-filled waters inside the wreck, murder and ultimate betrayal. The book was an exhilarating rollercoaster ride that left me drained and haunted at its conclusion. Best book I¿ve read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! It was such an exciting book, that kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't put it down! The vivid descriptions of the adventure down in Mexico make you feel like you are on it with the three main characters! Absolutely a great read!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like high adrenaline scuba diving adventure with handsome young men, beautiful mysterious women, pirates and crazed villagers in exotic tropical locales then ¿Dark Gold¿ is for you. But be warned, ¿Dark Gold¿ is not the typical shoot-em-up, shark-versus-diver, soggy sunken treasure yarn. The fast paced story is surprisingly intelligent. The story is about Jack Duran. He and his newly graduated college buddies, Duff and Rock, travel to the Pacific Coast of Mexico in search of adventure, women and Jack¿s missing brother. They clumsily stumble into every young man¿s wildest dream when they are invited aboard the luxurious sailing yacht of a wealthy Bahamian banker and are entertained by his two alluring and shapely shipmates. But unknown to Jack and his buddies, the suave and sophisticated Leo Bellocheque knows much more about Jack¿s brother and his odyssey than they can imagine. His girlfriend Candy, a buxom, red-headed siren, and Eva, a ravishing green-eyed Brazilian beauty who likes to show off her stunning figure with string bikinis, are both more than just eye candy. Candy, a financial whiz from Leo¿s Miami office, is a surprisingly experienced navigator, an ace with a magnetometer, a fearless scuba diver unafraid to use her dive knife. Eva is as intelligent as she is enchanting and she is deceptively athletic and deeply complex. Highly educated and well bred from an upper-class family in Rio, Eva¿s knowledge of maritime history and the details of the sunken wreck are encyclopedic. Like Candy, she too works for Leo and is also an expert sailor and scuba diver. But Leo must secure the help of Jack and his friends to find and retrieve the sunken gold. What the young men don¿t know is that the gold carries a terrible curse and is guarded by an enormous and very blood thirsty albino manta ray. The adventurers are also cursed by the shaman priest, whose tribal voodoo ceremonies seem to summon the evil beast. They are hunted by ruthless coked-up hoodlums who will stop at nothing to exact a bloody revenge and steal the treasure. Blind greed, hidden agendas and intrigue abound. Written from Jack¿s perspective, Angsten makes the story come alive with his fantastic imaginary of wild scenes above and below the sea. His knowledge of sailing, scuba diving, the Mexican locale, and native tribal and religious folklore give the story an undeniable authenticity. The story builds to a crescendo of incredible sexual tension between Jack and Eva, terrifying underwater encounters deep in the dark, silt filled waters in the old wreck, murder and ultimate betrayal. Angsten tempts the reader to race ahead to hurriedly get to the exciting conclusion. But don¿t do it. Savor every passage because ¿Dark Gold¿ weaves an intricate and detailed story that must be taken in slowly in order to fully appreciate the ending. It takes us on a Jacks¿ own personal journey and we experience his youthful enthusiasm and naiveté, his self-doubts, incredible pleasures, unbelievable terrors, new found courage, triumph, defeat and inner-discovery. The book was an exhilarating rollercoaster ride that left me drained and haunted at its conclusion. Best book I¿ve read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Angsten's DARK GOLD is an exciting and entertaining tale. I look forward to the movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Angsten takes you with him on this incredible journey. His writing is so visual you will probably want to start scuba diving. Dark Gold holds you in its grips from the first page until the exciting conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book 'reactivated' my childhood dreams of 'cool' things: scuba diving, treasures, beautiful women, tropical climates, voodo, pirates, thugs, romance, monsters, and suspense! This is a MUST READ! I can hardly wait for Mr. Angsten's next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Move over Herman Melville! David Angsten has managed to launch the reader aboard a 21st century gothic haunt on the high seas. Jack Duran's search for his missing brother springboards into a journey of terror and thrills in brooding Pacific waters, as well as into the dark, uncivilized jungle of western Mexico. The trip is spine-tingling from cover to cover and includes the lure of sunken treasure, an ominous undercurrent of voodo and death, and a mystical ocean monster to rival Moby Dick. Before plunging into Dark Gold - a word of advice ... lock your doors and check under your bed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dark Gold is an exciting read. The characters are interesting, the plot compelling and the writing intelligent. The most fun I've had reading in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
yahoo! what a ride! i held on tight 'til the last page. a gripping adventure. angsten is a genius with words. can't wait for the movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book had a fun plot and it kept me reading. Angsten creates some beautiful moments.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Dan Duran is globetrotting, but his family worries about him since his last postcard arrived four months ago. He has always kept in touch insuring them all is well. His mom fears her son has gotten into something nasty perhaps even dead so she pleads with her other offspring, recent college grad Jack to find Dan. --- Jack and his two best pals, Duff and Rock, head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the place where the family last heard from Dan, but soon follow a clue that leads to Punta Perdida, a village considered cursed by outsiders. To get there, the threesome obtains a ride in the Obi-man yacht owned by the mysterious Bahamian businessman Leo Bellocheque his crew is manned by beautiful Eva and Candy. In the cursed village, Jack meets a priest who insists Dan is dead, but also hands to him his sibling¿s journal. Jack soon realizes that Bellocheque is the key to his missing brother and finding the sunken treasure of the Argonaut, which Dan apparently located. Teaming up they can retrieve the booty, but must elude the lethal man-eating manta ray ¿El Diablo Blanco¿, avoid becoming sacrifices of the devil-worshipping Punta Perdida villagers, and evade gold seeking killers all during a one week vacation in Mexico. --- Fans who enjoy a non-stop action-packed over the top thriller will appreciate this fine campy tale that never takes itself seriously in a Tremors sort of way. While winking at readers, David Angsten entertains as Jack quickly goes from one escapade to another sort of like the 1940 cliffhangers. DARK GOLD is a terrific how I spent my vacation landing in one harrowing incident after another tale that is escapist fun to read. --- Harriet Klausner