Treasure Hunt (1977)
The last of Frederick Buechner's four delicious novels about evangelist Leo Bebb tells the story of Bebb's family's trek to rural South Carolina to claim their inheritance after the itinerant preacher's assumed death. What befalls the various clan members is by turns hilarious and frightening, filled with love, hate, hopelessness, and hard-won redemption. Frederick Buechner uncovers clear streams of spiritual meaning and human truth in the desert of religious charlatanism and cultural emptiness. As Treasure Hunt progresses, the characters recover the meaning Leo Bebb has had for each of them. As the narrator, Antonio Parr, comments, “What was there about [Leo Bebb] that made me miss him more than any man? Even at his lowest and bluest, there was a life in him that rubbed off on you, that's all. You might feel better or you might feel worse when Bebb was around, but in any case you felt more. There was more of you to feel with.” This is Leo Bebb's real “treasure”—and one that the reader takes away from the book no less than the characters whose stories intersect Bebb's own.
“Leo Bebb is a great character…Frederick Buechner is a master craftsman. His books abound with wonder and mystery, both human and divine. They are funny and they are wise. And Treasure Hunt illuminates Buechner at the very top of his form.”
— Larry Swindell, Philadelphia Inquirer
"There must be a lot of Frederick Buechner fans out there who loved reading his wild novels about Leo Bebb, holy con man, devout scalawag, cockalorum, whose antics in the name of the Lord were a stronger affirmation of faith than the platitudes of the pious. Well, there's a new one…they are all wonderfully funny and at the same time deeply reverent…I'll say it again. These are grand books."
— Margaret Manning, Boston Globe
“For Buechner addicts who have read Lion Country, Open Heart, or Love Feast, it is necessary only to say that this is a new book about Leo Bebb, as told by his son-in-law Antonio. These delightful novels are about religion, faith, and miracles —and how impossible they are to come by these days. But most readers laugh so hard they never even notice the serious undercurrents.”
— People Magazine
“Could anyone but Frederick Buechner blend reincarnation, UFOs, transistorized teeth, adultery, illegitimacy, and Jesus without seeming a smart-aleck, preacher, or a lout?”
— Kirkus Review
“What happens and what is discovered is only part of the charm of this new Buechner novel. For the way the man writes is special and engaging—serious, comic, with a kind of reverent irreverence for his people and his lives. Thanks to Buechner's amused and amusing view, his easy wit and style, this one's something special.”
— Publishers Weekly
“The novel abounds in omens, coincidences, and contrivances because Buechner, like Parr, wants us to venture forth and find wise treasure.[...]We laugh; we cry; we gain golden wisdom after reading about his adventures.”
— Irving Malin