The closer the Belgian Congo comes to independence in 1958, the more dangerous it becomes for the white population.
Young missionary Amanda Brown, who runs the guesthouse overlooking the spectacular falls in the mining town of Belle Vue, is doing penance for her role in a fatal car accident in her South Carolina hometown. Back in 1945, a white baby girl had vanished from her home. The mysterious Mastermind planned to hold her for ransom until his plans went awry when the baby was taken by a young Bashilele boy. Raised in the tribe, the Headhunter’s Daughter has grown almost to marriageable age when her existence becomes known, and she’s taken along with her native father back to the guesthouse by Amanda and Pierre Jardin, a dashing police captain in love with Amanda. Amanda’s servant Cripple, along as a translator, realizes that great difficulties will face the Bashilele-raised child in white society. The townspeople are agog over the new arrival, who has not the slightest idea of how to live as a white person. When the Mastermind revives the kidnapping plan, the headhunter vanishes, and long-buried secrets come out before Cripple takes matters in hand.
The second in Myers’ new series (The Witch Doctor’s Wife, 2009) hides the Mastermind’s identity well. But it’s best read for the evocative descriptions of life in the Congo, where the author grew up, and the skillful portrayal of the vast disconnect between the white and black inhabitants.