Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Marrakech and Murder



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.   


11 comments:

Harvee said...

Wish I could dash off for a weekend to Morrocco, or to anywhere, for that matter....! Love the pictures of the camels and hope you were able to ride one!

Here is my review of a mystery set in Morrocco - Lulu in Marrakech

Bernadette said...

I loved Marrakech too Martin when I visited some years ago. The only ctime-y book I ever found set there was a so-so thriller called FLASBACK by Jenny Stiller (or siller) about a woman who hides in a convent until her past catches up with her. OK but not terrific reading and no strong sense of place. I stuck to travel writers after that

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing those lovely 'photos! And I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. It sounds lovely. I look forward to your reviews of Symons' and Brand's novels.

Roz Southey said...

A title for a book set in Marrakech? It has to be something along the lines of 'The last straw that broke the camel's back' ...

Christos G. Makrypoulias said...

Try this one. Haven't read it myself, but it's supposed to be the first Arab piece of crime fiction to be translated into English. It is set generally in Morocco, I am not sure about Marrakech. http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/maroc/hamdoua.htm

Martin Edwards said...

Harvee, great to hear from you, and many thanks for the interesting link.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Bernadette. I've come across Jenny Siler, but never read any of her work.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, it certainly was lovely!
Hi Roz, I really liked the dromedaries. As for book titles, I did wonder about The Man in the Brown Souk...but then again...

Martin Edwards said...

Christos, that's really interesting - thanks for telling me about it.

Richmonde said...

Yes, Agatha Christie certainly got around the Middle East - but not Marrakech! There's a line from Murder She Wrote from an ageing seducer "Didn't we meet in Marrakekkkkkh?". Green for Danger is good but I struggled with another Brand set in a hat shop (too much tedious stuff about a silly detective, not enough about girls and hats).

lyn said...

Martin, I've just discovered the novels of Ann Bridge. Not really detective novels, more adventure or suspense with a resourceful heroine, Julia Probyn & some help or interference from the British Secret Service. A Lighthearted Quest is set in Morocco, partly in Marrakesh. here's my review of you'd like more details.
http://tinyurl.com/3g25juk