Simon & Schuster, Jul 2001, 23.00, 369 pp.
In 1628, apothecary Jeronimus Cornelisz flees Amsterdam because some of his views on sorcery are considered heresy. In spite of his assisting the city's burghers with various vials including poisons, Jeronimus knows his exile must start immediately. His need to leave town forces the pompous Jeronimus to travel by sea, a mode of transportation he loathes. Still Jeronimus becomes a passenger on the Dutch East India ship Batavia heading to Indonesia.
While sailing on the endless oceans, Jeronimus realizes the ship carries a fortune that he believes should be his by divine right. He also lusts after another passenger, who spurns his efforts at courting. Still, Jeronimus manages to use his charismatic personality to incite a mutiny. Soon, the Batavia runs aground with many dying at sea. Those who survive soon turn to “the seducer of men” to keep them safe until a rescue ship can arrive. Instead of a leader of a temporary haven, Jeronimus begins forty days of torture, mayhem, and murder.
THE COMPANY is a powerful historical fiction thriller told in the first person by the beguiling villain. The story line is frightening because it is based on a true incident and person. Arabella's Edge's research into Jeronimus allows the reader to see behind his charm into the head of this psychopathic megalomaniac. Yet his fellow mutineers and survivors fell right into his devilish allure. Genre fans will have a field day with this novel, especially comparing this diabolical individual with some of history's charismatic, but deadly tyrants.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner