Review by: Gwendolyn Mulholland
The Bright Winter sunshine threw long shadows in the late afternoon, as Blaine strolled down the length of the grand Boulevard Mohammed V. He was walking on air, having been serenaded by Bergman and Bogart at the Rialto.
As he glanced into the shop windows and took in the random features of the street and of life he thought about the world he had left behind It had been a sham, one detached from reality.
Three blocks from the end of the boulevard, Blaine noticed a scruffy shop-front. The sign had fallen away decades before, but the window display hinted at treasures within.
He forced open the door.
Inside lay an Aladdin's den of oddities and accessories from the days of the French Protectorate. There were old postcards in black and white, threadbare furniture with rounded legs, cut crystal glasses and cocktail shakers, gramophones, empty jeroboams of Moet, aspidistra stands, and crates of scratched old 78s.
I received this copy of Casablanca Blues to review and will admit I was a little unsure when I started as I have never watched the movie Casablanca, even though it is a classic. There are so many levels to this story that draw you in that I found it hard to start reading. There is mystery and intrigue at every corner and new situations pop up around every turn.
Blaine Williams lives and breathes Casablanca.
He’s trapped in a make-believe world of Bogart and Bergman, smoke-filled cafés, fugitives and hit-men.
And he’s having a mid-life crisis.
Having lost his girl, his job, and his home, he flees to the one place that’s always provided comfort in times of sorrow and despair: CASABLANCA
Diving in at the deep end of Morocco’s most misunderstood city, Blaine is sucked down through the many interwoven layers until he hits its bedrock.
And it’s there that he meets Ghita, a fabulously wealthy socialite, who’s got a plan for him – one laced with intrigue and revenge.
Through an adventure paid out in twists and turns, Blaine and Ghita find themselves in a storyline straight out of Casablanca the movie.
Hilarious, poignant, and shocking at times, CASABLANCA BLUES lifts the veil on modern Morocco and conjures a secret realm hidden from travelers and locals alike.
Tahir Shah does a wonderful job of weaving the characters together and showcasing the growth of the characters. The exploration of the culture both topside and the underground culture and how it all winds together in the daily function of the country is interesting. I also enjoyed how he introduced secondary characters and gave the reader more of their back story than you would normally get when reading a novel - I was impressed to see that secondary characters were developed. There is a little surprise at the end that I won't reveal but I promise that you will be surprised. I will say that Tahir Shah comes back full circle and answers a question that raised an eyebrow for me at the beginning of the novel.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in a good mystery or adventure story. This was my first time reading a work by Tahir Shah and I look forward to checking out some of his other works.
4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
Gwendolyn Mulholland is a stay-at-home mom who loves to read, but struggles to find enough hours in the day to do so. Although her Kindle gets a lot of use, she still prefers the touch and smell of a book in her hands. She writes for Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life and Vacation Maybe.
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