“The Company” by Arabella Edge (Simon & Schuster, 2001)

The Companystarstar

In Arabella Edge’s The Company the reader is taken on a most unusual journey, sadly the journey ends up being a boring one.  Our main character, Jeronimus Cornelisz, is a psychopath, though of course not many people know that.  He is also an alchemist and an apothecary: poisons are his love.  From a young age he has been obsessed with killing and controlling people through poisons and potions.  Now he is throwing that all away, and with forged papers, is joining the crew on a ship of the Dutch East Indian Company, the Batavia, which is to transport goods to one of its Dutch colonies.  Apart from a beautiful woman who Cornelisz is interested in, there is also a Dutch governor aboard and with him an untold amount of riches.

Soon a plan is forged between Cornelisz, the captain, and some of the crew to mutiny, get rid of all the unwanted people (but some of the women they will keep) and take the chests of gold for themselves.  Except Mother Nature has a change to make in their plan: an obscured reef that the Batavia will have its hull ripped open.  And those who survive will have to make do on an uninhabited island.  The problem is none of them know they have a psychopath within their midst.  While partially based on a true story, The Company does not really go anywhere, even though it has a remotely interesting story.  But then there is the cliché of the uninhabited island along with one of the members of the crew being insane.  It results in a somewhat doomed plot, but then if murderers and desert islands in the key of Treasure Island are what you like, then The Company may well be the book for you; just don’t expect too much.

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Originally published in June/July 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

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