The Witch Doctor's Wife

Tamar Myers, Author . Avon $13.99 (307p) ISBN 978-0-06-172783-2

Myers draws on her own experiences as the daughter of white missionaries living in the Belgian Congo for this dazzling novel full of authentic African lore. In 1958, Amanda Brown and her fellow passengers suffer only minor injuries when the plane bringing them to the diamond mining community of Belle Vue makes a crash landing. The 23-year-old South Carolina native, who's spent six months in Belgium studying French and the Congolese language of Tshiluba, has come to Belle Vue to run a missionary guesthouse, where she soon employs one of a local witch doctor's two wives, the delightful, no-nonsense Cripple. The discovery of a huge uncut diamond sets off a chain of unfortunate events leading to Cripple's being charged with murder. This marks a major breakthrough for Myers as she displays storytelling skills not recently seen in the claustrophobic confines of her Pennsylvania-Dutch (Batter Off Dead ) and Den of Antiquity (Poison Ivory ) mystery series. (Nov.)