A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt's ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map
1914. Brazil's Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. Plagued by hunger and suffering the lingering effects of malaria, Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and the other members of the now-ravaged Roosevelt-Rondon scientific expedition are traveling deeper and deeper into the jungle. When Kermit and Teddy are kidnapped by a never-before-seen Amazonian tribe, the great hunters are asked one thing in exchange for their freedom: find and kill a beast that leaves no tracks and that no member of the tribe has ever seen. But what are the origins of this beast, and how do they escape its brutal wrath?
Roosevelt's Beast is a story of the impossible things that become possible when civilization is miles away, when the mind plays tricks on itself, and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried. With his characteristically rich storytelling and a touch of old-fashioned horror, the bestselling and critically acclaimed Louis Bayard turns the story of the well-known Roosevelt-Rondon expedition on its head and dares to ask: Are the beasts among us more frightening than the beasts within?
Teddy Roosevelt's calamitous 1914 Amazon expedition with his son Kermit provides the background for this richly atmospheric novel from Edgar-finalist Bayard (The School of Night). The prologue, set in 1943 Alaska, makes plain the toll taken on Kermit, who, even years later, hallucinates that he sees skin and flesh peel off a friend's skull. The main narrative chronicles the circumstances leading up to Kermit's mental deterioration, as the difficult conditions of their trek to map the course of the so-called River of Doubt prove too much for Teddy. Kermit had just become engaged, and was successfully involved with developing the Brazil Railway Company when he was roped into joining the expedition. The ordinary rigors of travel through the rain forest pale in comparison with the danger posed by a legendary beast that disembowels its prey and that the locals believe to be connected with the North Americans. The predictable resolution makes this less successful than Bayard's more complex intellectual thrillers.