The Witch Doctor's Wife

The Witch Doctor's Wife

by Tamar Myers

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061727832
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/20/2009
Series: Belgian Congo Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 307
Sales rank: 848,073
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Tamar Myers is the author of the Belgian Congo series and the Den of Antiquity series as well as the Pennsylvania-Dutch mysteries. Born and raised in the Congo, she lives in North Carolina.

What People are Saying About This

Mary Alice Monroe

“Only an author with an intimate knowledge of the Congo—its people, landscape, and culture—could write a novel with such confidence and authority. This is a lush novel, rich with tension and intricately woven, believable characters. Myers clearly loves the Congo—and you will love this book. I did!”

Carolyn Hart

Tamar Myers’ mesmerizing novel of mid-twentieth century Congo plumbs passion, despair, and courage. The Witch Doctor’s Wife will long linger in the hearts and minds of readers. Authentic. Powerful. Triumphant.

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Witch Doctor's Wife 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1958 Amanda Brown comes to the Belgium Congo to oversee the guest house where the missionaries stay when they come in from the bush to relax, be with their own kind, get entertained, and be able to go shopping. Amanda hopes to bring the natives to the Lord although that is not why she was hired. She employs Cripple as her aide though her limbs are twisted her mind is sharp. Cripple is married to Their Death, the local witch doctor, who is forced to accept other means of employment when the Flemish refuse to allow him to practice. Their Death is also married to another woman Second Wife who gave him many children. His young son has a rock in his mouth that Their Death recognizes as a quality diamond. He cannot smuggle it out of the country because the Consortium has guards watching everyone leaving the country. When he makes contact with someone who can afford to buy the gem, Their Death sets in motion a series of events that jeopardizes First Wife Cripple and her South Carolina employer. Tamar Myers provides a vivid look at the late Eisenhower Era in the Belgium Congo as the occupying Europeans suppress the subjugated natives. This lucid perspective is cleverly seen by the caring American who is shocked by the attitudes of the whites including missionaries as the outsiders see the locals as naive children, a mid twentieth century white man's burden. Though smuggling seems as if it would be relatively easy for someone like Their Death with his connections, the story line focuses on ironically several deadly sins especially avarice and gluttony as Tamar Myers leaves Pennsylvania Dutch country behind with this stirring colonial African historical thriller. Harriet Klausner
debbook More than 1 year ago
Amanda Brown leave her South Carolina home to travel to the Belgian Congo in 1958. When she arrives, she discovers that the couple she is taking over from will not be back for a couple of weeks and Amanda must manage on her own, with one servant, Protruding Navel to assist her. Though Amanda has learned one of the local dialects, there is much about this culture that she does not understand. Meanwhile the baby boy of the local witch doctor, Their Death, finds a large diamond while his mother, Second Wife, works in the fields. Once Their Death discovers that a diamond has been found, he makes plans to try to sell it without the local diamond consortium finding out. His first wife, Cripple has decided she wants to work for the new young missionary woman. Cripple discovers what her husband is planning to do and sets in motion a chain of events that effect everyone. my review: This is the first book I have read by this author, though she has written several cozy mysteries. But this book is based on her childhood experience of living in the Congo with her missionary parents. The author does a great job of showing the differences in culture between the Europeans and the Africans as well as the differences and problems between the tribes that reside around the little village of Belle Vue. She has created some interesting characters but does not delve into them as deeply as I would have liked. A few characters are set up with situations but then quickly disappear. The main character is really Cripple and she is also the most interesting, as she finagles a job with Amanda and outsmarts her husband in order to protect the whole family. I think this was supposed to be more literary and make more of a social commentary but the author did not dig deep enough and it read more like the cozy mysteries that she is known for. It had a lot of potential but was underdeveloped. my rating- 2.5/5 http://bookmagic418.blogspot.com/
Bit More than 1 year ago
This book is quite a departure from Tamar Myers' Den of Antiquity and Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries. She has a love for the Africa that she knew and a yet an understanding of the dangers of the Africa of then and now. I liked the book quite a bit and would recommend it with the caveat that if one is a reader of Tamar Myers, this will be a departure from the usual humorous ride of her other stories.
Noticer More than 1 year ago
Found very interesting and really enjoyed little tidbits before each chapter which gives you a sense of Africa. Fast read and exciting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Witch Doctor's Wife" by Tama Meyers tells the story of the diamond industry in The Congo in the late '50's. What makes this story interesting is that the author was born and raised in The Congo so this fictional story takes on an even greater meaning. What detracts from this story is the multitude of characters - some underdeveloped, some appearing to be just place holders and others serving a distinct purpose. I put the book down about half way through and had a hard time trying to remember who was who and where the story was going. While the first third of the book was very interesting - setting the story up, giving great background and detail of The Congo (you feel you can hear the water falls!) and introducing the plucky main character. From there the story dissolves with the introduction of too many supporting characters, the mystery and ultimately the climax at the ending. There was too much going on at the end of the story and too many of the plots resolved too quickly. While I enjoyed this book, I felt that it needed a good editing and a decrease in supporting characters. If Ms. Meyers intends to have a sequel, my suggestion would be to stick to the main character in the story - the location. I was ready to book a trip to the dark continent while reading the book!
Chris_Phillips More than 1 year ago
The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamara Myers ISBN 978-0-06-172783-2 Review by Chris Phillips The Witch Doctor's Wife is historical fiction. The action occurs in the Belgian Congo of 1958 just before that nation's independence. The main characters are Their Death, a Witch Doctor for the local tribe in the area of Belle Vue, a Belgian colonial village, and Amanda Brown, an American missionary coming to the area to manage a guest house. Myers writes a very well penned novel. There is a mystery, actually three mysteries, and they play an important part in the plot and the flow of the novel. The story begins with the airplane Amanda arrives on crashing in the jungle that surrounds the landing strip. The perspective of the plot changes from Amanda's situation to other situations as the story progresses. This may seem to be disjointed, but it is something that can and does work for Myers. This allows for several different subplots to ebb and flow throughout the novel. The plot, and various subplots, are consistent and interweave well to make this a good tale. Myers is normally a "fun" mystery writer. She has written fifteen "Den of Antiquity" mysteries and seventeen Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries. Both of those series contain lighthearted and frolicking stories. This work is much darker and more brooding, as is suitable for a tale set in the same land as Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The characters are very much alive and fully developed; even those that don't have names, or are only mentioned once or twice. There is, however, a stark contrast between the whites and the Congolese, as was the case at that time in history. Each player makes their contributions, while some move closer to the front and others recede. Their Death's First Wife, named Cripple by her peers, is lively and the intellectual equal of any others. Second Wife, although not named anything else, is the stable factor in the Witch Doctor's house. The police captain, Pierre Jardin is very important to the plot and resolution of the mysteries, but often seems a bit player. However, he is real and easily visualized. The list of characters is considerable and these examples are but a sample of those populating the novel. None of the characters suffer at Myers' hand. Myers' incorporates an odd feature in this book. The beginning of each chapter offers some tidbit of information about the Congo, its flora and fauna and even Myers' own longing wish to return there some day. Although there must be some logic for where each tidbit is presented, it is not apparent to this reviewer. What is apparent is that Myers grew to love the Congo, the people there and is a very able defender of that region of Africa. This is a very good book. The viewpoints and problems of the people living in that time and place are fairly depicted by Myers. There are some characters that do not quite seem to fit, but perhaps this reviewer missed some subtle details, because the book as a whole is a wonderful read and a delightful trip into Myers' past and the Congo's history. It is highly recommended for any reader, but particularly for those readers who enjoyed her other books. As posted on www.bestsellersworld.com (http://www.bestsellersworld.com/2009/10/19/the-witch-doctors-wife-by-tamara-myers/)
jnavia on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I enjoyed reading this book, but there are several problems with it. First of all, who was the main character, Amanda or Cripple? Maybe it doesn't matter, but it seemed to me that Cripple was the main character and maybe the story would have been stronger with her as the central figure. Who was the Nigerian? What part did he play? I still can't figure that out. I have a great deal of difficulty believing Amanda would do what she did at the end of the book and even more difficulty believing that the reaction to her actions was positive (I can't give away specifics), but it is just a story and if we insisted that everything in literature be believable, there wouldn't be much literature. Also, I'm not convinced that the villagers would be as up on politics of the area as they were. Maybe, maybe not. Not sure what newspapers they were reading or how they were getting national news. Those are the problems I had with the book.Still, I did like the story (despite the less-than-believable ending) and loved reading about the culture. I liked the paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter about people and wildlife in the Congo. The characters were all very interesting and well-written, even if some were superfluous. Two-thirds of the way through, I thought the story had completely diverged from the story of the diamond, but at the end, I saw how it all came together. Despite the flaws, I'd recommend this book to people interested in reading about other cultures, and who enjoy a somewhat convoluted mystery.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Witch Doctor's Wife is a story of the waning days of the Belgian Congo. The reader is introduced to the exotic setting through the character of Amanda Brown, a young American newly arrived to run a missionary guest house in the town of Belle Vue. Through Amanda, the reader has an outsider's perspective, not just of the African society and customs, but also of the Belgian/European culture. The town is dominated by a diamond mining company, and the social pecking order mirrors the company hierarchy. The atmosphere is filled with greed, jealousy, ambition, animosity, and prejudice -- not just the European prejudice against the African population, but also European ethnic prejudice between Walloon and Fleming Belgians, and between Belgians and southern Europeans. There are whispers of Congolese independence in both the African and European communities. Myers draws the reader into the setting and the lives of the characters, then adds a large uncut diamond to the mix and lets events take their course. I've read and enjoyed a few of the author's cozy mysteries. This book is completely different. I would classify it as general fiction rather than mystery. Don't be misled by the comparisons to Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. It seems like any new book with an African setting wants to link itself to McCall Smith's popular series. The authors' styles are different, and the Congo and Botswana are about as much alike as New Mexico and Massachusetts. Readers who like novels with a strong sense of place will find a lot to like about this book. It also has strong characters and a strong story, so it should appeal to a broad range of readers. Warmly recommended.
bookmagic on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Amanda Brown leave her South Carolina home to travel to the Belgian Congo in 1958. When she arrives, she discovers that the couple she is taking over from will not be back for a couple of weeks and Amanda must manage on her own, with one servant, Protruding Navel to assist her. Though Amanda has learned one of the local dialects, there is much about this culture that she does not understand. Meanwhile the baby boy of the local witch doctor, Their Death, finds a large diamond while his mother, Second Wife, works in the fields. Once Their Death discovers that a diamond has been found, he makes plans to try to sell it without the local diamond consortium finding out. His first wife, Cripple has decided she wants to work for the new young missionary woman. Cripple discovers what her husband is planning to do and sets in motion a chain of events that effect everyone.my review: This is the first book I have read by this author, though she has written several cozy mysteries. But this book is based on her childhood experience of living in the Congo with her missionary parents.The author does a great job of showing the differences in culture between the Europeans and the Africans as well as the differences and problems between the tribes that reside around the little village of Belle Vue. She has created some interesting characters but does not delve into them as deeply as I would have liked. A few characters are set up with situations but then quickly disappear.The main character is really Cripple and she is also the most interesting, as she finagles a job with Amanda and outsmarts her husband in order to protect the whole family.I think this was supposed to be more literary and make more of a social commentary but the author did not dig deep enough and it read more like the cozy mysteries that she is known for. It had a lot of potential but was underdeveloped.my rating- 2.5/5
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Cripple is First Wife (of two) of a witch doctor named Their Death. She is a smart woman who constantly gets discounted due to her appearance. When a huge diamond is introduced into their lives a web of unfortunate events set off a tidal wave of dangers fueled by greed.Amanda Brown, a young missionary from South Carolina, travels to the Belgian Congo in 1958 in order to oversee a missionary guest house in the town of Belle Vue. Belle Vue is a diamond mining town in which the race by the Belgian occupiers to get as many riches as they can before the forces of independence takes over is a major concern.When the lives of these two women cross, they and the people they interact with are tested in ways none of them ever imagined.For me, the premise of the novel, nothing is what it seems; gets tested almost every chapter with the main characters as well as the fascinating individuals they encounter. Ms. Myers¿ makes that point several times during the story as well as the informative short paragraphs which introduce every chapter and tell the reader about the plants, animals and culture of the area.The book is not told from one point of view, but from several points of view which is very interesting because the reader has an idea of how the several characters in the book see themselves (the natives, the Belgians, etc.)I found this book easy to read and it kept up my interest both from a cultural perspective as well as an interesting storyline. The characters were fascinating and the author made an effort to keep them ¿gray¿, not all good and not all bad.
cathyskye on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
wcath on LibraryThing 8 months ago
There is much to like about Tamar Myer's novel The Witch Doctor's Wife. The plot is well-written with surprises and twists that keep it moving. The characters are quite memorable, written with a wry wit and an understanding of the good and bad in people, no matter their country of origin, and in the things that motivate them. I found that one of the best things about the book is Ms. Myer's first-hand knowledge of this part of the world. As the daughter of missionaries she spent her early years in the Congo and I think this lends an authenticity and warmth to the writing. She shares some of her knowledge of the people and wildlife at the beginning of each chapter in sort of a "fun facts about the Congo" way. (A couple of these were quite surprising!)In the introductory blurb on the back of the book, The Witch Doctor's Wife is compared to Alexander McCall Smith's series featuring Precious Ramotswe and her detective agency. Having read and enjoyed several books in this series, I don't find much of a resemblance between the two. The fact is that they are both good and both set in Africa. They just aren't all that similar.Overall, I found The Witch Doctor's Wife to be an enjoyable and interesting book. (Review based on a complimentary Advance Reader copy.)
Readanon on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Having read and enjoyed many of the author's other books, I really looked forward to reading this one, and I wasn't disappointed. While completely different from her cozy mysteries, the story sped along and kept my interest the whole time. The characters were fun to read and care about, and learning something about the people of the Belgian Congo and the way they looked at the strange customs of the white people was very interesting. I hope Tamar Myers will write more about the Africa she knew while growing up.
lyncos on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is set in the Belgian Congo in 1958. Amanda Brown travels from South Carolina to the tiny village of Belle Vue to supervise a guest house for missionaries. The story includes several different threads: an increasing desire for political independence highlighting the vast social divide between races,; the greed of a mining comany's voracious appetite for profits; the relationship of the local witch doctor, Their Death, his two wives, their family and other tribes. Greed is a dominant rheme as the discovery of a large diamond both drives apart and draws together different factions in the community.This book will appeal to mystery lovers with its twists and turns and surprise ending.
nyiper on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was a delightful book in so many ways. I loved the descriptive paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter, giving a special piece of the author's personal knowledge about Africa, but of course the entire book describes things the author knows. I particularly enjoyed the origins of the names of the African people and the straightforwardness of their descriptions of what those "strange white people" did as far as such things as their eating behavior and their bathroom habits. And the plot itself---wonderful! It twists and turns and there are continuing surprises right up to the very end.
MrsLee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I love the voice of this book. The view of Europeans and Americans through the African eyes in the '50s, the descriptions of the wildlife, nature and lifestyles are interesting and captivating. A few of the dialogs between some of the characters were jarring, but most were not. It is a picture of life in the Congo just before the independence, and though there was much darkness, the tone was not dark. A definite page turner.
Maggie_Rum on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Interesting, with facts on the Congo at the beginning of each chapter, but some of the plot is cloudy at times. Overall not bad, but not the best I've ever read.
Jcambridge on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An interesting read with well-developed characters and a surprising ending. I liked the "factoids" at the beginning of each chapter...Anyone with an interest in African culture and history will likely enjoy reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
0me More than 1 year ago
a refreshing departure from her other work
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pjpick More than 1 year ago
My first of Tamar Meyer's books. First what I liked about the book. I appreciated the illumination of a time and place with clashing cultures. Meyers also started each chapter with a factoid on Congolese culture or fauna, I actually found these paragraphs much more interesting than the book itself. Now for what I didn't like: no depth! We just skim the characters and the events of the story. Perhaps TM was just trying to get us to know too many characters that she had no room for the story. Just my take on it. Lovely cover, though.
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