Ghost Eater: A Novel

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9780312306717: Ghost Eater: A Novel

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.

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About 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.

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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