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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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