Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Headhunter's Daughter -Tamar Myers

The Headhunter's Daughter
Tamar Myers
Morrow, Jan 25 2011, $13.99
ISBN 9780061997648

In 1945 in the Belgian Congo, a Bashilele warrior on a headhunting quest finds an abandoned baby that he assumes is an ailing human due to her white skin and blue eyes. He takes the infant to his tribe to be raised as a member affectionately called "Ugly Eyes".

In October 1958 in the Belgian Congo, rumors fly in the diamond-mining town of Belle Vue that a white teenage girl lives with the Bashilele tribe. American missionary Amanda Brown; her boyfriend police captain Pierre Jardin; and her scheming maid Cripple are stunned with the news of a Caucasian residing with the headhunters. The teen is brought to the outpost, which leads to everyone discussing whether "Ugly Eyes" is the Belgian infant who vanished thirteen years ago. They also debate what to do with the child as resolution of the problem is complex but surprisingly also dangerous.

The Headhunter’s Daughter is a fantastic Belgian Congo historical thriller that brings to life the then African colony with tender affection just like Tamar Myers did with the terrific The Witch Doctor's Wife. With a nod to the “white man’s burden” rationale for colonization, the story line is character driven by Good Samaritans who learn first hand what paves the road to hell as nothing seems to go right for the pair or the girl they want to help. However though the American and her boyfriend drive the tale, it is the deep look at colonial Belgian Congo during the Eisenhower Administration that makes for a powerful Cold War era thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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