It was just one of those crazy little stories buried in the morning paper. “News of the Weird,” as it’s sometimes known, true stories about real life events so unlikely and ridiculous that they attain a kind of absurd magnificence in the retelling. “Cult film sparked hunt for a fortune,” was the small headline that attracted my attention that morning back in December 2001. “A Japanese woman searched a remote area of America during a quest to find a briefcase containing almost $1m buried by a fictional character in the cult film Fargo.”

According to the article, a 28-year-old woman had left Tokyo a month earlier to travel to North Dakota, in America’s midwest. The police were called after she was spotted wandering around the outskirts of the state capital, Bismarck. When officers interviewed the woman, she showed them a “crude map” that was supposed to show the location where the money was hidden in the movie. A perplexed spokesman for the Bismarck police was quoted saying: “We tried to explain to her that it was a fictional movie, and there really wasn’t any treasure.”