It’s a race against the ‘Clock’

Mac Barnett and Eli Horowitz have a secret. Well, 12 of them, to be exact. As the authors of “The Clock Without a Face” — McSweeney’s new curiously shaped, beautifully illustrated mystery book — they not only know which character swiped the emerald-studded numbers, but they also know where they’re buried in the real world.

Treasure is a concept that, according to Horowitz, we’re sadly removed from. “Things in our world are so mediated. There are promotions and rebates and lawyers. Even cereal boxes — you open it up, you get a code, you have to go on the Internet for your prize,” he says. “The purity of the treasure hunt has been compromised.”

Not that you have to be an aspiring detective to enjoy the book. Thanks to Scott Teplin’s intricate, endlessly fun illustrations and the lovably bumbling characters, it’s perfectly acceptable to just sit back and enjoy the story without searching for clues. “We wanted to make sure that, even when the emeralds were dug up, it would still have value,” says Barnett.

But back to those emeralds — can we get a hint? Not quite, but the authors will be giving out some clues during the book tour. “People are doing amazing work so far,” says Horowitz. “A lot of people are amazingly accurate and insightful. Others are just amazingly inaccurate, but our sense is that people are closing in.”

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