In the Shadow of the Cypress

In the Shadow of the Cypress - Thomas Steinbeck Author Thomas Steinbeck's "In The Shadow of the Cypress" shows him to be an outstanding heir to his father's literary legacy.Steinbeck the younger presents a tale that starts in Monterey's Chinatown in 1906. Dr. Charles Gilbert, of the Hopkins Marine Station, writes a journal about some artifacts found buried at the base of a cypress: a carved jade seal with an imperial "chop" and a navigational tablet -- items which may just prove that the Chinese explored the West Coast before the Spanish. His inroads and efforts to learn about the objects take him through the inner workings of the Chinese culture in the area. Eventually, the local Chinese authorities decide that the artifacts are best preserved by selling them to one of San Francisco's Chinese family corporations. Gilbert makes some rubbings and takes photographs of the items prior to them being boxed up, carefully sealed in wax, and put on a steam ship to San Francisco (railroads had not yet been connected to San Francisco after the earthquake). The steam ship goes down after an explosion and the artifacts are lost.Cut forward to 1998, when Charles Lucas is a marine biology student on an internship at the Hopkins Station. He finds Gilbert's papers and, with the assistance of his linguist and computer scientist friend Robert Wu, determines to solve the mystery of what happened to these valuable items. Wu translates the writing on the base of the seal while Lucas explores Gilbert's journals on the sly. He's been assigned to clean up the files at Hopkins Station, not start a treasure hunt.Steinbeck draws you into the story with beautiful details and imagery. Like his father before him, he creates a scene filled with fascinating characters and interesting stories. Not to be missed by those who are interested in California history.