Thriller set in Morocco (“…a country full of teaming, sometimes hostile life..”)
- Book: The Heat of Betrayal
- Location: Morocco
- Author: Douglas Kennedy
American couple Paul and Robin fly to Morocco for a long holiday. Paul is a flighty artist, Robin is the Ying to his Yang, an accountant who watches the bottom line in more ways than one. They met when Paul went to her for financial advice, a man who liked to spend top dollar on wine and luxuries, but lacked the income to really sustain a lavish lifestyle.
At Paul’s behest they head for Essaouira (pronounced ess-weera in Arabic, apparently) in Morocco, a popular beach resort on the Atlantic coast, where he is intent on producing some new and inspired artwork. Robin sets her heart on learning French whilst he is occupied. And one of the main purposes of the trip is, to put it bluntly, inseminate Robin, who is desperate to become a Mother – after all, her biological time clock is ticking away as she is nearing 40. Mad, passionate scenes of lovemaking are interspersed with dreamy days overlooking the ocean and of romantic evenings watching the “red globular sun slowly liquidating into the a tranquil ocean“. They are mesmerised by the rich colours of the city, and learn to enjoy the city where “the kinetic madness of the life screaming around...” is omnipresent. But it all comes to a giddying halt when Robin discovers some information when she is tidying up Paul’s things. Stark reality hits her in the face and it is the manner of her response to this new information that is the key to the progression of the story.
This is not, however, Paul’s first time in the country, and as the book moves along, the mysteries unfurl, like the snakes rising for the snake charmer in Jemaa el-Fna, the waters getting ever murkier. Paul seems to disappear…. Robin is a resourceful woman, (considered as the main suspect in his disappearance by the police), and she is soon in hot pursuit, fighting her mounting anger at her new found knowledge, yet struggling all the while with the fact that Paul is her husband, a husband who seems to be under quite some mental strain. As her quest broadens, she is faced with adventures and encounters that see her careening around the country in search of answers and in search of Paul, from Tata, to Casablanca, across the Sahara, Ouarzazate and on to Marrakech… the thrilling speed of her adventures whips up a picture of a country full of teaming, sometimes hostile life, and above all colour and vibrancy.
The author explores a little of the couple dynamics: Robin, with an ordered lifestyle, is drawn to, well, feckless men. This tendency is probably attributable to her Father’s behaviour, essentially as he was a gambler and emotionally unavailable to her. And then he died on her. Paul is secretive yet has seductive and charming ways that totally hook Robin in… but is he a schemer or just hapless?
There is one pivotal event in Tata that serves to move the story on, when Robin morphs into an even more plucky and resourceful woman, with the creative means to overcome a given situation, but for me this was a little too heroic given the manner of the attack she had to face. A small point in a very readable book, written in the clear and strong style that makes Douglas Kennedy such a popular author. Enjoy.
This review first appeared on our blog, where we also feature an author interview: https://www.tripfiction.com/thriller-set-in-morocco/