True Detective

How Tiffany Brooks ’21 cracked the clues of a fourteen-year-old BC treasure hunt.

In 2006, English Professor Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield (TKM to students) created a campus treasure hunt to celebrate the release of his fantasy book Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter. He drafted fifteen clues drawn from the novel and BC history and lore, and offered a $2,000 prize to the sleuth who could solve the mystery. But no one ever did. That was until last fall, when Tiffany Brooks ’21—with some help from friends Abby Hunt ’21, Aidan O’Neill ’23, Kiki Kavanagh ’22, Jacob Kelleher LSOE ’21, and Caitlin Mahon ’21—finally finished TKM’s puzzle after nearly a year of dogged detective work. "This was definitely one of the coolest parts of my BC experience," said Brooks, who grew up watching Spy Kids and reading Nancy Drew mysteries. "I’m glad I was able to share it with other people." Here are the stops Brooks made around campus as she deciphered Kaplan-Maxfield’s clues to complete the hunt, and collect the reward.

START: Bronze eagle atop the Dewey Column

Bapst Library interior

Though you be a Know-Nothing yet,
Turn about and walk to the place
Of the tarred-and-feathered leader.
SOLUTION: The Swiss Jesuit priest John Bapst—the namesake of Bapst Library—survived a tarring and feathering by members of the Know-Nothing Party in 1854 to become the first president of Boston College.  STOP 2: Bapst Library

 STOP 3: Shakespeare stained glass window in Bapst Library

 STOP 4: Gasson 100

 STOP 5: Stokes Hall

 STOP 6: Fourth-floor conference room at Stokes Hall

Fulton Hall atrium

Where the clue has led, seek the number
Among its fellows. Read and think:
Where is there such a place nearby?

SOLUTION: In the library database, Brooks discovered that the call number she found at Stokes Hall—Pz8.B327 Wo—is for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. That sent her to the atrium at Fulton Hall, where design elements such as the domed tin light fixtures and the tapestries woven with the red, pink, and black hues of poppies are rumored to be inspired by the children’s book—and one of the atrium benches is inscribed with the Latin "Certes, Toto, sentio non in Kansate iam adesse."  STOP 7: Atrium at Fulton Hall

 STOP 8: Burns Library

 STOP 9: Fourth floor of Stokes Hall

Fulton Hall atrium

Now remember also your discovery
At Clue #4. Where does one grow
That never grows, though always
Watered and under the sun?
SOLUTION: Clue 4 had Brooks counting the branches on the trees in the mural The Church: The Education of Mankind, in Gasson 100. With that in mind, she found a tree "that never grows, though always watered and under the sun" in Peter Rockwell’s ten-foot bronze fountain The Tree of Life, on the edge of O’Neill Plaza.  STOP 10: The Tree of Life fountain

 STOP 11: Stokes Hall S369 (Kaplan-Maxfield’s office)

 STOP 12: Bapst Library sundial

 END: Volunteer & Service Learning Center in McElroy Commons
At the last stop on the hunt, Brooks found a star-shaped brooch like the one described in Kaplan-Maxfield’s novel, nestled inside a dusty book from Sundial Press. Puzzle solved! ◽