NEW YORK (AP) -- There's an unclaimed $1 million out there -- somewhere.
The jackpot is actually 12 jewels hidden in very public places around the United States. Think diamonds, think rubies, think the rarest, most perfect Kashmir sapphire.
All you need to do to get any or all the gems is to decipher clues in the book "A Treasure's Trove." The clues lead to a dozen 18-karat gold tokens. Author Michael Stadther, who hid each of the tokens himself, promises that they are all in public places where they can be easily accessed without digging, moving or disturbing objects or structures.
Once a token is in hand, it can be redeemed for one of the jewels.
And Stadther is releasing a clue not contained in the book for the first time this week: "Hint: Tackle repositories."
"A Treasure's Trove: A Fairy Tale About Real Treasure for Parents and Children of All Ages" is the realization of the author's 25-year-old dream to create a puzzle sandwiched between the pages of a classic, timeless fairy tale. He was inspired by 1979's "Masquerade," for which author Kit Williams hid a necklace made of rare gems and gold that was found in the English countryside three years later.
"I studied fine arts and had a B.S. in math -- I thought I could do this. But for me, one treasure wasn't enough. And the story had to outlast the treasure hunt," Stadther says. "Hopefully, 100 years from now, people will be looking for the 'jewels' in the story."
So far, no one has claimed the real treasure.
Stadther has received hundreds of e-mails since his self-published book was released in November. The messages come from everyone -- 6-year-olds to an 88-year-old woman who says her mother is working on the puzzle. There are chat rooms on the Internet devoted to "A Treasure's Trove" and the book might get translated into Chinese.
When he does readings at schools, the 52-year-old Stadther is treated like a rock star with scores of kids charging at him, hoping to snare a clue.
"The kids go right for the puzzle and the treasure," he says. "I thought the treasure was for the parents and the story was for the kids, but the opposite happened. I hear from parents that they're so happy that there's a story the family can read together that's not dumbed down."