The Bermuda Indenture

Written by Strudwick Marvin Rogers
Review by Ellen Keith

The Bermuda Indenture hinges on a title search, which sounds like one of the most boring tasks in the world, but to give Rogers credit, he makes it interesting and engaging. At stake is the ownership of land in Alabama that is currently producing lots of oil, making the purported owner, commodities broker Peyton Durant, quite rich. Is the real owner Melvina Hawkins, a poor, elderly black woman who may be the only direct descendent of Raymond Herbert Durant? In 1994, Alabama lawyer Zack Whitcomb’s search takes him from New Orleans to Bermuda where he tries to discover why the crucial document, the Bermuda Indenture, went astray. The “why” hearkens back to the Civil War when Bermuda and its British inhabitants were friendly to the South and helpful to blockade runners. An accounting made by a shipman on one such ship in 1863 explains why the document did not reach its destination.

While the plot is engaging, those who populate it are less so. Characters are good or bad, no shadings at all. We root for Hawkins and we dislike Durant. Rogers also overuses internal exposition, having characters recount their past actions as if they have to remind themselves what they did and why they did it. What the author does succeed is at place, and I enjoyed the travels from Alabama, to Louisiana, to Bermuda. I just wish the tour guides had been more interesting.