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A well-written and intriguing mystery; readers should look forward to the hero’s further adventures.

On the eve of the Spanish Civil War, an Italian detective in Morocco investigates a series of crimes in this debut historical novel.

In 1936, Capt. Faustino Equi, 36, has been sent to Tangier on a year’s exile from Italy, where he’s served in the carabinieri following his army stint in World War I. Equi has made life difficult for himself in Mussolini’s Italy by opposing Fascism, which he hopes to keep on doing in the Tangier International Zone, administered by France, Spain, Britain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands. But, as he learns from his boss, the Scottish Chief Inspector Inman, directives called “Tangier rules” apply. These include leaving alone Jews, homosexuals, and others targeted by Fascist leaders but, most importantly, “we keep arrests to a minimum and sort things out best we can,” protecting the zone’s reputation and stability. Both are threatened when a European woman’s body is found “wrapped in copper wire, doused in petrol and burned—perhaps alive.” A Spanish man’s dramatic suicide and confession seem to solve the crime. Equi doubts it’s that simple, especially after a second suicide (or murder?) of a retired Spanish officer, but Tangier rules forbid him from properly investigating. The stubborn Equi, whose aristocratic family motto is “Surrender everything but honour,” nevertheless persists, helped by some allies. But just as Equi is unraveling the final threads, Franco touches off the Spanish Civil War. In his series opener, Hughes makes excellent use of place, history, and character to tell a moving story that goes deeper than crime-solving. Tangier of 1936 comes alive in his telling, with its tangle of cultures, languages, people, and neighborhoods. It’s a fine metaphor for moral ambiguity, summed up by Tangier rules, a phrase so central that it should be the book’s title. Equally well-drawn are the tale’s characters, particularly Equi, who has a complicated past that includes an English mother, an abusive father, and a wife who died 15 years previously. But the novel would benefit from streamlining some of its slowly developed revelations.

A well-written and intriguing mystery; readers should look forward to the hero’s further adventures.

Pub Date: April 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984196-21-7

Page Count: 486

Publisher: Stonesong Digital Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2018

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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