PIRACY IN THE PACIFIC: The Story of the Notorious Rorique Brothers by Henri Jacquier

PIRACY IN THE PACIFIC: The Story of the Notorious Rorique Brothers

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A blood-soaked tale of piracy in the Pacific which had unexpected reverberations in European diplomacy. The strange saga of Alexander and Joseph Rorique begins in Tahiti in the 1890's where the pair probably hijacked a schooner and murdered its crew before sailing with a valuable cargo to the Spanish-governed Carolines. As Jacquier unravels his skein, the name of the schooner changes from the Niurahiti to the Poe Avarua; a half-caste cook spills out a grizzly story of treachery and murder to the Spanish authorities; and the naval tribunal in Brest hears the remarkably detailed and impressive defense of the two brothers, who it further develops, are not shady drifters but prominent Belgians who have been repeatedly decorated for bravery at sea and credited with saving many lives. Are these men vicious pirates? Is the cook a miserable liar? Jacquier ponders the Jekyll-Hyde elements of the Roriques' personality and the remote parallels of the Dreyfus case. Though one of the brothers died on the lie Royale--adjacent to Devil's Island where Dreyfus was kept--the other received a pardon, wrote his memoirs and became port chief of police in Trinidad. It's a confused story of charges and countercharges, judicial irregularities, scrambled identities and political pressures exerted by the Belgians on the French. Jacquier believes the brothers were guilty, but guilty or innocent at this remove it's hard to care much.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Dodd, Mead