THE CROSS OF BARON SAMEDI by Richard Dohrman

THE CROSS OF BARON SAMEDI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Baron Samedi -- Chief of the Legion of the Dead, Haitian voodoo overlord, symbolized the superiority of the primitive over the foreign white conquerors, the aliens who, failing in understanding, failed in infusing ""civilization"" into tribal ritual and mores. Lt. Owen Wiley, in command of a Haitian outpost at the time of Hoover's presidency, considered himself inured to the climate, the natives, the customs. He had met and married Isabel Bogardus in Bronxville, much against the wishes of her family who had brought up Isabel to expect better than Wiley could offer. Her wildest expectations, however, couldn't prepare her for Haiti's rigorous demands. Lacking her husband's phlegmatic sense of balance, she got herself killed by voodoo-inspired tribesmen. Her mother and brother arrive on the scene and become as swept up in the unreal Haitian atmosphere as all the other white men who had spent too much time there-- Dr. Menninger, whose skill appeared to be incompetence from afar, Capt. Belknap, a periodic drunkard, Julian Aubery, who became a voodoo ritualist. Wiley, tired, bored, takes up an affair with Aubery's sister; he bungles even here, incapable of keeping their secret, and is killed, a careless voodoo victim. A vast canvas is painted here with many acute character portraits and dialogue, but lacking unity, total meaning and fitting resolution.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1958
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin