- "I don't like playing private eye. But if there's some artifact at stake—especially one that's the key to greater loot—I can't resist."
- ―Mack Stanton's journal[src]
Mack Stanton was an investigative treasure hunter operating out of San Francisco. A specialist in artifact recovery, he became involved in a hunt for Jacob Carlisle and Carlisle's Chinese Foo dog sculpture.
Early life and education
As a child, Stanton was fond of tales of long-lost civilizations and missing treasures. This interest led, in college, to Stanton pursuing classes in archeology. However, Stanton had little patience for classwork and note-taking, preferring instead to engage in field work.
Stanton finally dropped out of college when presented with an opportunity to join a team to Central America that was searching for a long-lost city in ruins. While the expedition was little more than an opportunity for their rich patron to experience an exciting holiday, it further encouraged Stanton's interest in adventurous archaeological field work.
- "I told her I specialize in finding antiquities, following tattered maps and clues from crazed shamans."
- ―Mack Stanton's journal[src]
Stanton eventually set up office in San Francisco as an investigative treasure hunter. During his career, he located and recovered several stolen artifacts for local museums, and indulged eccentric millionaires in quests to find lost treasures. He also once traveled to Mexico City to prevent a rival "antiquities agent" from selling the ill-gotten collection of one of Stanton's clients. At one point, he was also approached to locate the lost tomb of King Midas, though it is unknown whether he took the job, as he regarded the offered pay as insufficient.
During the course of his career, Stanton acquired a number of items that peppered his main office. Among them were a tribal shield and spears, a blocky statue of presumably Central American origin, a statuette of a bird, and a map of Skull Island.
By 1935, Stanton primarily focused on recovering stolen items for one of the local museums, and on accompanying some of the more rugged expeditions into the field.
The Carlisle Incident
- "A missing husband, a stolen statue, and a lost treasure. Right up my alley."
- ―Mack Stanton's journal[src]
On a slow afternoon in 1935, Stanton was closing a case he had entitled "the Case of the Missing Mummy" when he was approached by Christine Carlisle. In a state of tears, Mrs. Carlisle explained that several days before, she had had an argument with her husband, Jacob, and that he had stormed off. He hadn't returned since then, and their villa had also been ransacked; only a Chinese Foo dog sculpture had been stolen, a statue supposedly the key to unlocking an ancient tomb, leading Mrs. Carlisle to believe her husband had been kidnapped to find the treasure therein. Intrigued by the missing artifact and prospect of lost treasure, and paid a "consulting fee" by Mrs. Carlisle, Stanton went with her on the half-hour journey to the Carlisle villa.
Stanton spent the afternoon exploring the home thoroughly, acquiring several clues that led him to believe there was something fishy about the whole situation. Stanton returned to his downtown office, promising to ask around town to see if any further leads turned up. Questions at Mr. Carlisle's employers, Consolidated Drilling, confirmed the date of disappearance, and Pan American Airways ticketing personnel informed Stanton that Mr. Carlisle bought passage on the Pacific Clipper to the Hawaiian Islands, proving to Stanton his suspicions that this was not a kidnapping, but a simple case of a husband leaving his wife.
Upon informing her of his latest findings, Mrs. Carlisle offered a satisfactory payment for Stanton to continue the investigation. Suspecting he may have gone on to Southeast Asia, he sent letters to old treasure-hunting contacts in Manila, Hong Kong, and Singapore, figuring that if Carlisle himself didn't show up, the Foo dog statue would eventually, either on the black market or near an excavation. Two weeks later, the Manila contact, Juan, returned a reply, indicating Jacob Carlisle had been seen in the Philippines purchasing a small plane. Stanton informed Mrs. Carlisle of the new information, then departed for Manila.
Upon arriving, Stanton received a note from Juan indicating that he had followed Mr. Carlisle to Singapore and that the treasure hunter should meet him there. Stanton obliged, and upon meeting with his contact, learned that Juan had lost track of Carlisle after the latter had headed toward Sumatra, and that only the previous day had Juan gotten another lead. Missionaries returning from working the small villages along the Javan coast reported the natives had claimed to see a large, white "bird" descending to a nearby island, disgorging a "ghost" that floated gently to the ground before the bird crashed into a "flaming mountain."
Having finally acquired a solid lead, Stanton hired the best pilot he could find on short notice, a woman named Shain Weinstein. The pair spent the next few days flying down the Sumatran and Javan coasts until they arrived at the village the missionaries had left. In exchange for a few trinkets, the natives pointed them toward the island where they had seen Carlisle's plane go down.
The island was a relatively short flight away, and Weinstein gave Stanton a fly-by, allowing Stanton to spot a crashed plane on the slopes of the island's volcano, before setting her floatplane down in the island's lagoon and mooring at the beach. Stanton set off alone along a crude trail into the jungle, as tremors and smoke from the volcanic cone indicated an eruption might be imminent.
Personality and traits
- "Look, I'd love to help you find King Midas's lost tomb, but not if you aren't paying me…"
- ―Mack Stanton[src]
Stanton was a bit of a ne'er-do-well, willing to move from one treasure-hunting scheme to another. However, he was quite experienced at his chosen task. He was generally happy so long as his clients kept him paid. He longed to someday either uncover a truly amazing treasure, or else make a great archaeological discovery.
Physically, Stanton was a well-toned man, standing six feet tall and weighing 185 pounds. He was rugged looking, with black hair peppered with gray. He also wore a thin mustache.
Stanton typically carried into the field a .44 Magnum pistol, a notepad and fountain pen, a magnifying glass, and a pocket knife.
Behind the scenes
Mack Stanton is the player character for the solitaire adventure "The Carlisle Incident" in the West End Games book Indiana Jones Adventures. The adventure was written by Peter Schweighofer and illustrated by Paul Daly. As an adventure, Stanton's choices aren't certain, particularly after he leaves Shain Weinstein and proceeds up the jungle path.