Ghost Eater

Ghost Eater

by Frederick Highland
     
 

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A riveting thriller, Ghost Eater marks the introduction of an intense new voice in seafaring adventure.

Moored in a wintry Asian harbor at the turn of the twentieth century, Captain Ulysses Vanders experiences a revelation. A ferryman brings a mysterious gift—a wine at once rare and familiar that brings the sailor back to a moment in Sumatra thirty

Overview

A riveting thriller, Ghost Eater marks the introduction of an intense new voice in seafaring adventure.

Moored in a wintry Asian harbor at the turn of the twentieth century, Captain Ulysses Vanders experiences a revelation. A ferryman brings a mysterious gift—a wine at once rare and familiar that brings the sailor back to a moment in Sumatra thirty years before. "I closed my eyes, remembering where I had last tasted this liquor, remembering back across the years, remembering how steady the hand had been that held out the cup to me, and how desperate the circumstances. With a stab, her face rose before me—beautiful, tantalizing, terrible to behold."

This haunting memory leads the sailor back to his first command and a desperate river journey to rescue missionaries along a remote jungle river. Captain of an aging steamboat, Vanders soon finds himself burdened with a set of unexpected, mysterious passengers, each traveling to the mission outpost known as "Light of the World" for reasons of his or her own. The island world Vanders discovers is a ghostly place, darkly lit with the flames of social upheaval, a world of superstition and strife, as age-old ways of life are swept away in the murderous rampage of a tribe gone mad. At the edge of civilization, the young American captain learns not only the challenge of command but the courage to confront his own illusions, beautiful and terrible to behold.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book is peopled with rich, enigmatic characters whose pasts are shrouded in mystery and whose motives are close held secrets."

—Jim Nelson, author of the Revolution at Sea and the Brethren of the Coast Series

"Glorious shades of Joseph Conrad, but with wry humor! Splendidly written and an intriguing adventure/mystery in the grand old style."

—Dewey Lambdin, author of the Alan Lewrie series

"This is the work of a devoted and accomplished story-teller, and of a gifted writer and craftsman, for whom the completed tale is considerably more than the sum of its parts."—Robert Edric, The Broken Lands

Publishers Weekly
Set in 19th-century Dutch-controlled Sumatra, this is a swashbuckling, seafaring novel with mystical overtones. American Ulysses Drake Vanders is commissioned to guide the 70-foot riverboat Lorelei into the Sumatran jungle to investigate so-called "bloodthirsty spirits" terrorizing a Christian mission called Light of the World. If a minister's daughter and another American are brought to safety, permanent command of the Lorelei will be Vanders's reward. Accompanied by pirate hunter Claridge, Vanders must first deliver Rowan Fahey, a convicted dealer in contraband, into custody on the island of Banka. Fahey manages to escape his Banka jailers, stowing away on Vanders's boat up the Jambi River and becoming part of the crew. At a stop along the way, two Malay women hop on board and share superstitious stories about the Golden Sura ghost and the tribes that populate the area. Strange happenings occur (and two more stowaways appear) as they glide up the Sumatran coast; could an evil "hoodoo" curse have been placed on the boat? As a pirating plot is exposed, the Lorelei is taken over by relatively friendly Batak tribesmen. Braving white waters and narrowly escaping more violent warrior tribes, they finally reach the mission, only to discover that the American missionary, Deborah Rand, has gone native and joined the hostile Mamaqs. The dense, rambling narrative leads to a rather lackluster conclusion steeped in tribal folklore and superstition. Overgrown with detail, this tropical odyssey ambles at a boggy pace. (Sept. 19) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
If Joseph Conrad and H. Rider Haggard were to collaborate on a work of fiction, the result would come very close to Ghost Eater. Set in 19th-century Sumatra, this debut novel features an exotic locale seen against a background of suspense, superstition, and greed. The characters are all unusual, and, with the exception of the protagonist, not one of them is what he or she seems. Ulysses Vanders (whose name is not the only reference to classical literature) is a young sea captain engaged to lead an effort to rescue missionaries along a remote jungle river. Various unexpected and mysterious passengers show up and board the ship. Along the way, both on land and on sea, Ulysses and his passengers encounter murder, tribal warfare, international subterfuge, magic, and close brushes with death. Landing at the mission, Ulysses has some hairbreadth escapes, and he returns home under completely different circumstances from whence he set out. But he (and the reader) have more surprises in store before the book comes to a resounding close. A rousing adventure story; recommended for public libraries.-Fred M. Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312306717
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/25/2003
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.66(h) x 1.27(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Frederick Highland has been, according the seasons and the tides, a tropical agriculturalist, merchant seaman, and university lecturer. He has traveled widely, lived in the Far East, the Middle East, and Europe and currently writes in Washington state.

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