Dancing with the Witchdoctor: One Woman's Stories of Mystery and Adventure in Africa

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William Morrow, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 235 pages
In a series of moving and powerful stories based on her experiences as a private investigator, Kelly James draws us into the mystery that is Africa. A lone woman searching for the lost, she propels us through harsh cultures and brutal lands, navigating among warring political factions, communist borders, poachers, tribesmen, witchdoctors, prostitutes, the poverty stricken, and the sick. James exposes us to a world where truth is ephemeral, and where compassion, though frail', still bleeds through the grit and dust. James vividly re-creates the remarkable people she encounters and the complex worlds they determinedly inhabit. In "Detour" James investigates the apparent suicide of a beloved coffee-plantation owner in Kenya. Peeling back the layers of her mysterious death, as well as the character of the courageous victim, James arrives at a heartrending conclusion. In "Gorillas and Banana Beer" James ventures into the jungles of Rwanda in order to catch what may be a final glimpse of the mountain gorillas, only to struggle for survival against merciless poachers in a village of forgotten children. In "Beira," at the edge of Mozambique and anarchy's ground zero, James searches for a lost woman and her daughter. The likelihood that they, are alive amid the chaos, death, and decay is almost nil. "Witchdoctor" captures a Journey into Kell), James's own heart of darkness. She treks into Turkanaland, otherwise known as "hell on earth," to find a Turkana woman doctor who has disappeared. James's sanity and life hang in the balance in a surreal and ferocious closing to this compelling debut work. In Dancing with the Witchdoctor , Kelly James unveils a land where heroism is an everyday occurrence. She presents the memorable people who dance with her on the edge, like Kumlesh, the Indian who has the inside track on anything one needs to know in Africa; Pepi, the cocky fourteenyear-old Portuguese who trades shells for clothes in Beira; Lua, a native Turkana, whose fierce strength and features conceal her ache to see her friend and mentor again; and the nameless Watusi woman who is willing to give her children away to ensure their survival. Kelly James's first book is a testament to the strength of women, and one that will reveal that even in a land where flesh withers in the sun, there is no better proof of humanity than when it is on the brink.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kaitanya64 - LibraryThing

This book is a fantasy masquerading as travel narrative. James clearly has only visited some of these places as a tourist, and others not at all, but the stories are entertaining. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

James is a private investigator specializing in Africa. Her true-life tales are fascinating and harrowing. Her writing style is pretty good - very vivid descriptions. But I wonder if she truly "loves ... Read full review


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About the author (2001)

James is an international investigator. She also gives seminars on international business culture and, when time allows, lectures to third world university women on the international job market. Aside from English, she also speaks Swahili, Zulu, Spanish, and Greek.

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