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© Bella Stander

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The Company
The Story of a Murderer
by Arabella Edge
(Simon & Schuster)

August 30, 2001

by Bella Stander

Here's what's missing from "Survivor": A psychotic pharmacist takes ruthless control of his fellow castaways, poisons the sick, orders his band of dissolute thugs to murder the disobedient and has the women jailed as sex slaves. Okay, that scenario may be a little too over-the-top, even for cable TV. But it actually happened in 1629, when the Dutch East India Company's Batavia ran aground off the coast of Australia. In this fictionalized revisit, Amsterdam apothecary Jeronimus Cornelisz, on the run from authorities, disguises himself as a merchant and ships out for the Spice Islands. Ever the schemer, our man stages a mutiny to commandeer the Batavia's vast treasures. A storm and an uncharted coral reef intrude--and the rest is history, savagely imagined and lyrically told.

© 2001 Time Inc.

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