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The Headhunter's Daughter: A Mystery (Belgian Congo Mystery) Paperback – January 25, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Amanda Brown Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rarely have good intentions wrought more disastrous results than in this captivating Belgian Congo adventure, by turns comic and suspenseful, a worthy sequel to its predecessor, The Witch Doctor's Wife (2009). In October 1958, reports of a white girl living among the Bashilele tribe of headhunters shock young American missionary Amanda Brown; her dashing police captain suitor, Pierre Jardin; her conniving maid, Cripple; and the rest of the diamond-mining outpost of Belle Vue. Could the self-possessed teen known as "Ugly Eyes" be the same Belgian who vanished from the community as an infant 13 years earlier? In any case, what should become of her? Answering these questions proves unexpectedly complex as well as surprisingly dangerous. Myers (Butter Safe than Sorry and 17 other Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries) spins an engagingly devious yarn, but what truly elevates this effort is the warmth with which she evokes the now-vanished Congo where she spent much of her childhood. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Drawing on her experiences from childhood, when she lived with her missionary parents deep in Belgian Congo, Myers has fashioned a charming mystery series very much in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith�s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. In this second adventure (following The Witch Doctor�s Wife, 2009), it is 1958, and word has reached the mission station that a white girl (not an albino) is living with an isolated tribe of headhunters. Could this be the baby girl who disappeared from her carriage 13 years previously? Missionary Amanda Brown sets out with lifelong Congo dweller Captain Pierre and her maid, Cripple, to locate the girl and return her to her rightful people. Thick with atmosphere, the novel is a gentle read, yet Myers does not hesitate to acknowledge the simmering racial tensions that plagued all levels of Congolese society in the last few years before independence. An excellent choice for book groups. --Jessica Moyer
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Product Details

  • Series: Belgian Congo Mystery (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061997641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Crall on June 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read both "The Witch Doctor's Wife" (WIFE) and "The Headhunter's Daughter" (DAUGHTER) this week while on vacation. The former was left by a previous tenant of the condo I'm staying at, and was a serendipitous find. I thoroughly enjoyed how the portrait of the Belgian Congo was drawn alongside the main plot. I also enjoyed the African factoids at the beginning of each chapter. As a result I eagerly downloaded the Kindle version of DAUGHTER. Unfortunately, DAUGHTER appears to be a sequel in search of a story.

Where WIFE flowed seamlessly between details of colonial Africa and the story DAUGHTER is disjointed and many plot elements seemed contrived simply for the sake of highlighting an interesting historical or cultural fact. Several of the characters seemed to have distinct personality changes in the second book, e.g. the OP. And I'm pretty sure there are inconsistencies between the two books (I have no desire to recreate the timelines in detail). Even glossing over the details the plot is much flimsier and doesn't really build to an interesting conclusion. Finally, as mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed the factoids at the beginning of each chapter in WIFE, and these were not included in DAUGHTER (at least in the Kindle version).

Although I feel this book was half-baked at best, there is still a fair amount of interesting details about colonial Africa. If you're intrigued by the premise and haven't read WIFE, I would start there. If you really liked WIFE, there's a good chance you'll at least enjoy this book -- just don't read them back to back.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book pales in comparison to the Witch Doctors Wife. However, the characters are still fun and you just never know what they will say. It ended without a real conclusion as well. I really only read it so I could get more from the characters of the first book but this one left me a little flat.
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Format: Paperback
In 1945 in the jungles of the Belgian Congo, a Bashilele tribesman on a quest to claim an enemy head finds an infant in the gravel pits. These gravel pits have been haunted since a white woman drowned there. The pits claim lives. Despite the infant's white skin and blue eyes, the tribesmen brings the baby back to the tribe. After hearing stories of white girl living among the Bashilele, missionary Amanda Brown takes Captain Pierre Jardin and Cripple to investigate the strange stories. Thirteen years after she was found, the maturing girl now named "Ugly Eyes", returns to the civilization from which she was taken. After spending years among the Bashilele, the attempt to rectify the kidnapping causes more problems. Not only is she lost among her new home, but the story about her birth and kidnapping threaten to unravel dangerous secrets.

In THE HEADHUNTER'S DAUGHTER, Tamar Myers delves deeper into unique cast of characters first introduced in THE WITCH DOCTOR'S WIFE. The author takes the reader deep into the ethos of pre-independence Belgian Congo and the racial, economic, religious and social tensions beneath the surface of daily life. The mystery keeps a reader guessing. Even as one follows the trail of clues to solution, the intricacy of the mystery and the discoveries along the way leaves a sense of satisfaction once revealed. THE HEADHUNTER'S DAUGHTER is so much more than a clever mystery. The author's insights into the culture add both depth and humor. The author's poetic prose is a delight to read. The cast of character's is delightful from the refreshingly innocent but insightful Amanda Brown to the more conniving Cripple.

THE HEADHUNTER'S DAUGHTER is best read after having read the previous book, THE WITCH DOCTOR'S WIFE.
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Format: Paperback
First Line: The gravel pits had been haunted for the past six years, ever since the first white woman drowned.

In 1945 an infant was left out by the gravel pits as a result of a botched kidnapping plot. The baby girl is found by a young Bashilele tribesman on his quest to claim the head of an enemy. The young boy takes the baby back to his tribe where she is raised as a member of his family-- even though her pale skin, straw-like hair and strange blue eyes mark her as being very different from the rest.

Thirteen years later, young missionary Amanda Brown hears the stories of a white girl living among the Bashilele headhunters. She enlists the help of the local police chief, Captain Pierre Jardin, and brings along the witch doctor's wife, Cripple, to act as translator. They find the young girl (now called "Ugly Eyes") and bring her back to the Missionary Rest House and "civilization". But the young white girl no longer belongs in Amanda Brown's world, and the secrets surrounding her birth and disappearance prove to be very deadly indeed.

Author Tamar Myers was born and raised in the Congo, so this is very familiar territory to her. (When reading the book, don't skip The Author Answers Some of Your Questions section at the end of the book where Myers talks about her life in Africa.)

The plot is well-paced and the mystery very intriguing. I didn't figure out the mastermind behind everything and did an "of course!" eye roll at the reveal.

Amanda is a good blend of strength and naivete. She truly wants to do the right thing even if that right thing doesn't coincide with what her judgmental elders believe-- and she has the delightful habit of speaking her mind before she can stop herself.
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