Henderson’s Spear by Ronald Wright

Olivia, a British Canadian filmmaker, is writing to the daughter she gave up for adoption at birth. She’s writing from the jail in Tahiti because the French authorities suspect her of spying on nuclear testing in the Pacific, perhaps even murder.

Olivia, in turn, shares her own story and the story of the ancestor of a friend of the family, Henderson, who as a young man accompanied the Prince of Wales on a trip through Polynesia and the Pacific islands. When he was a bit older Henderson had a nearly deadly encounter with some Arabs in North Africa, and he came to believe that his treatment in North Africa was somehow connected to the secrets he learned while travelling with Prince Eddy through Polynesia.

I didn’t feel as if the plot strands in this book came together well. I didn’t much care for the oh-so-liberated Olivia who was mourning, twenty or so years later, both the loss of her father and of her daughter. Henderson, the other main character in the book, was a bit of a Victorian prig, stereotypical, yet he accepted certain events that I think would have appalled any man of his time and background.

I give it about a C+.

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