I’m just back from a quick trip to – of all places – Africa. Morrocco, to be specific, and Marrakech to be even more precise. It was really an impulse decision to go off for a long week-end in search of a bit of sun before the run-in to Christmas, and very enjoyable it was too. I’ve never been to Africa before, but I was very taken with what I found.
I can’t recall ever reading a crime story set in Marrakech, though I’m sure there must be some; perhaps my memory is at fault. Any suggestions of titles? I’d really like to try a book set there. And there are surely bound to be plenty of thrillers set in Morocco. Certainly, it’s an atmospheric city; the souks are amazing, and I also saw my very first snake charmer. Not that I took a photo of the snakes, mind; you never know how they might react!
I read two contrasting books on the trip. I’ll be reviewing both The Players and the Game by Julian Symons and Tour De Force by Christianna Brand shortly. I’d read the Symons before but admired it all over again. Both books were highly ingenious – but Symons’ cleverness at plotting is sometimes overlooked by those who focus mainly on his criticisms of some classic detective novelists.
As for Brand – my feelings are mixed, in that I admire her work a good deal, yet find some of her writing rather frustrating. She and Symons were friends and contemporaries, but she was hurt when he gave one of her books a less than glowing review. He described her approach as “hectic”, which isn’t the adjective I’d use, but there are, I think, reasons why she is much less well remembered today than her talents would have justified. More of this another day.