Author: Christine Mangan
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Little Brown in March 2018
Summary: from Goodreads
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.
But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
I’ve been interested in reading this book ever since I first heard about it. I love books set in the 50s, I find it such a fascinating and transitory time period. I expected this to be a sort of creepy noir mystery set in an incredibly atmospheric place – Tangier, Morocco. The novel delivered this completely, the setting certainly helped with the tone and all consuming feeling and the writing was elegant and skilful. There was a sinister feel to the story from the very first page, this was assisted by the evocative descriptions of Morocco and it’s climate. The descriptions of the overwhelmingly hot weather created an almost oppressive atmosphere which really adds to the immediately intense ambience.
The novel is told from the alternating perspectives of the two central characters, Alice and Lucy. They are both intriguing and well developed characters, however there is an uncertainty throughout the story about the reliability of both our narrators. Alice’s sections are incredibly anxiety inducing, she is such a fragile character and her agitated mindset actually made me feel nervous and claustrophobic. Lucy as a character comes across as much stronger and more capable but her motivations are murky and she feels like quite a dangerous person right from the beginning. Both of these characters retain enough mystery that the reader remains unsure about whose narrative to trust for a long time which I found exciting and unpredictable. Their friendship is so unhealthy and yet they are both drawn to each other like flies, it is a fascinating relationship to unpick and examine.
The plot moved quite slowly at first and very occasionally my attention drifted a little. However, the story and characters kept me coming back and the last third of the book picked the pace up a great deal as we hurtled towards the conclusion. There was a great classic feeling to the mystery and a terrific intensity that just seemed to get more and more sinister as the story continued. The writing was evocative and felt true to the time period it was set it. This was an intelligently put together novel and I would recommend it to anybody who loves classic thrillers and intense, mysterious characters.
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.