Marika Vecera, an accomplished war reporter, has dedicated her life to helping the worlds oppressed and forgotten. When not on one of her dangerous assignments, she lives in Boston, exploring a new relationship with Seb, a psychologist who offers her glimpses of a better world.
Returning from a harrowing assignment in the Congo where she was kidnapped by rebel soldiers, Marika learns that a man she has always admired from afar, Pulitzer-winning war correspondent Robert Lewis, has committed suicide. Stunned, she abandons her magazine work to write Lewiss biography, settling down with Seb as their intimacy grows. But when Marika finds a curious letter from a missionary claiming to have seen Lewis in the remote jungle of Papua New Guinea, she has to wonder, What if Lewis isnt dead?
Marika soon leaves Seb to embark on her ultimate journey in one of the worlds most exotic and unknown lands. Through her eyes we experience the harsh realities of jungle travel, embrace the mythology of native tribes, and receive the special wisdom of Tobo, a witch doctor and sage, as we follow her extraordinary quest to learn the truth about Lewisand about herself, along the way.
The black waters of Elobi Creek show no sign of a current. It is another dead waterway, Marika tells herself, one that will breed only mosquitoes and crocodiles. Another waterway that somehow reflectsin the darkness of the water, in its stillnessall of her failings. These waters, this breathless heat, seem to be waiting for a response from her, a call to action. But she has no answers. And if shes to be honest with herself, she never had any. Things will unravel. They will fall apart.
If she is to be honest with herselfand the pain from self-honesty, but the duty of it, tooshe must admit that this time she seems to have started something that is beyond her ability to stop. It is as if the dominoes of her life have begun to fall, and she can only watch each moment disappearing in the futile fractions of a second. She is still looking for her ghost. Nearly three months spent in Papua New Guinea, and no sign of him. Does Robert Lewis know she has given up ...
Salak makes some stylistic decisions that initially come across as awkward, choosing to differentiate the PNG scenes from those occurring elsewhere by a change in tense .... Fortunately, the plot is so involving that the reader is willing to overlook the book's weaknesses.
The White Mary is a great adventure story, and is certainly a page-turner. but it will not be for everyone. People who are bothered by graphic descriptions of brutality should probably give this novel a pass. Most fans of the genre, however, will want to put this one on their list.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1205 words).
A Short History of Papua New Guinea
New Guinea, the second largest island in the world*, is situated approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Australia. The Independent State of Papua New Guinea (aka Papua New Guinea or PNG) comprises the eastern half of the island. (The western half is the Indonesian state of Irian Jaya.) PNG has an area of 178,703 square miles (462,860 square kilometers) about the size of California with a population of 6.3 million people (2007).
Archeological evidence suggests the island was inhabited approximately 50,000 years ago by Asian settlers. The first recorded contact with Europeans didn't come until Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses "...
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