In the Shadow of the Pyramid

“In the Shadow of the Pyramid” is an historical fiction novel about the whaling vessel Niantic.

She was less than a year out of Warren, Rhode Island, on a three year voyage when she pulled into Paita, Peru, in 1849 and was asked by the American Consul in Panama to turn into a passenger ship. Men afflicted with Gold Fever were stranded on Panamanian beaches unable to find their way 4,300 miles north to San Francisco. Captain Cleaveland sold passage and anticipated making many more lucrative trips, but when Niantic dropped anchor in San Francisco Bay, she was abandoned by her crew as were a thousand other vessels.

Hauled ashore and buried on the corner of Sansome and Clay Streets, Nantic was turned into a hotel which later burned to the ground. A structure was built atop the hulk of the buried ship, only to be destroyed in the quake of 1906. Another building was constructed in the same location which existed until it was razed to make room for a highrise.

This is the story of a man who found the buried ship and claimed the right of salvage. Don Worthy has no plan other than to have his attorney convince a judge to get an injunction in order to give him time to salvage the vessel. In reality, all Worthy wants is to be bought off.

The author suggests three ways in which to read this book. First, as a whole in numerical order. Second, because the even numbered chapters take place in the past and the odd numbered in the present, the book may be read either as a collection of short stories or as one story. When read in even number order — 2, 4, 6, etc. — a relatively accurate historical narrative of the Niantic, San Francisco and its denizens circa 1849 emerges. If read only in odd number order — 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. — a contemporary tale of larceny on a grand scale is told.

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