Sex, Murder and Mystery
In The Enchanted Islands
In the 1930s, the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, famed for Darwin’s expedition, were thought of as the last great pristine territory, unspoiled by human habitation. In Europe, some hardy souls – disenchanted by what the First World War had revealed about humanity – decided to settle there. A German doctor called Friedrich Ritter, who had a passion for Nietzsche, left his wife, and went there with a married woman, Dore Strauch.
A visiting American scientific party was fascinated by these modern-day Robinson Crusoes and effectively publicised their lives for the press back home, and Ritter was horrified when other would-be settlers turned up too. A stolid, bourgeois family, the Wittmers, arrived, and then a bizarre fantasist and adventuress who styled herself the “Baroness” Eloise von Wagner Bouquet. This sexually alluring siren caused all sorts of tensions, which led to disappearances and rumours of foul play.
The Galapagos Islands are a small chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Ecuador, to which they belong. Not exactly a paradise, they are rocky, dry and hot, and are home to many interesting species of animals found nowhere else.