Thursday, December 10, 2009
The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers
Title: The Witch Doctor's Wife
Author: Tamar Myers
ISBN: 978-0-06-172783-2, Avon, 2009
Genre: Cosy Mystery
First Line: The dominant female danced along the edge of the manioc field, impatiently waiting the arrival of her pack.
The plane young missionary Amanda Brown is traveling on crash lands outside the village of Belle Vue in the Belgian Congo, which is too forceful a way of telling her that she is no longer in South Carolina. Amanda's housekeeper, an evil-tempered man named Protruding Navel, is highly incensed when she hires a village woman named Cripple to take his place. Profits at the mine are not as high as stockholders would like. Love affairs are being conducted. People relive old tragedies with each new dawn. When one of the villagers stumbles upon a huge uncut diamond, events are put into place that could lead to nothing less than murder.
When I began my long and willing descent into mystery reading, Tamar Myers' cosy "Den of Antiquity" series set in South Carolina was one of the first that I devoured. I enjoyed Myers' sense of humor and way with words. The author has a second long-running "Pennsylvania-Dutch" series as well. In deciding to use her own background as child of missionaries in the Congo of the late 1950s, Tamar Myers has broken new ground in what I hope will be a very fertile field.
Myers' knowledge of the land and people of the 1950s Congo permeates every page, even when it's a small detail such as villagers knowing they had to get home before they heard the first sounds of the hyenas. The customs of the native peoples, how the whites lived and behaved, the landscape, the weather, the architecture... all of these things brought such verisimilitude to the book that I would rank The Witch Doctor's Wife right up there with Alexander McCall Smith and Michael Stanley.
I did have one problem with the book however: there were too many characters, and several of them didn't seem to have anything to do. I didn't get any of them confused; I just read and wondered why they were there. Myers is possibly setting up future books in a series, but I did find the character bounty awkward.
Normally I tell people not to believe blurbs that say, "If you like McCall Smith's #1 Ladies Detective Agency" because most of the time that merely means that the book is set somewhere on the African continent. This time, I would say a blurb like that would be true. There's a gentleness, a humor, and a wisdom to The Witch Doctor's Wife that does remind me of Precious Ramotswe. If Myers does continue to write about Amanda Brown, I'll continue to read the books. They're that good.
[Source: LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.]
My Book Rating Scale:
A+...Don't delay, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A...I loved it!
B...I really liked it.
C...I liked it, with a few reservations.
D...I finished it, but it's not my cup of tea.
- Phoenix, Arizona, United States
- Hi! I'm addicted to books (especially crime fiction), laughter and traveling off the beaten path. In my free time, when my eyes aren't glued to the printed page, one of them is usually pressed against the viewfinder of my camera. Let's see... books, laughter, travel, photography. Anything else? Oh yeah-- my dream house wouldn't have a kitchen!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.