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DOUBLE BLANK by Yasmina Khadra


by Yasmina Khadra & translated by Aubrey Botsford

Pub Date: March 15th, 2005
ISBN: 1-59264-119-9
Publisher: Toby Press

Droll, jaded Superintendent Llob investigates the murder of a fond acquaintance from his youth.

After 30 years, weary, self-righteous narrator Llob, a veteran of the Algiers police department, encounters diplomat and intellectual Ben Ouda. Decades earlier Llob had disentangled Ouda from a potentially damaging charge of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old. Now, in mysterious statements studded with metaphor, Ouda claims to possess secret documents that will shake up the corrupt cabal of Algerian powerbrokers and asks Llob’s help in disclosing the information. Their meeting ends without an agreement, but with Llob’s promise to get in touch with Ouda once he’s decided. In the meantime, however, the old provocateur is found beheaded in his apartment, his current “boy,” a beautiful teenager named Salem Toufik, cowering in a wardrobe. Llob’s hopes of eyewitness testimony vanish when the young man commits suicide. Llob and sidekicks, depressed Lino and imposing Ewegh, a transfer assigned to replace the murdered Inspector Serdj (Morituri, 2003), seek leads among such varied criminal haunts as the plush but fading Belvedere Hotel and a shabby café called the Circle of Friends. Their investigation apparently triggers more murders among the city’s criminal element, speeding the need to solve the crime.

Slight as a police procedural, but a fascinating tour of a corrupt and crumbling society.