From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Moment and Five Days comes a “completely absorbing and atmospheric” (Philip Kerr) novel about a woman whose husband disappears without a trace amidst the stunning, labyrinthine world of Morocco.
Robin knew Paul wasn’t perfect. But he said they were so lucky to have found each other, and she believed it was true. When he suggests a month in Morocco—where he once lived and worked, a place where the modern meets the medieval—Robin reluctantly agrees.
Once immersed into the swirling, white-hot exotica of a walled city on the North African Atlantic coast, Robin finds herself acclimatizing to its wonderful strangeness. Paul is everything she wants him to be—passionate, talented, knowledgeable. She is convinced that it is here that she will finally become pregnant.
But then Paul suddenly disappears, and Robin finds herself the prime suspect in the police inquiry. As her understanding of the truth starts to unravel, Robin lurches from the crumbling art deco of Casablanca to the daunting Sahara, caught in an increasingly terrifying spiral from which there is no easy escape.
For fans of thought-provoking page-turners such as The Talented Mr. Ripley, Douglas Kennedy’s The Blue Hour is a roller-coaster journey into a heart of darkness that asks the question: What would you do if your life depended on it?
FIRST LIGHT. AND I didn’t know where I was anymore.
The sky outside: was it a curved rotunda of emerging blue? The world was still blurred at its edges. I tried to piece together my whereabouts, the exact geographic location within which I found myself. A sliver of emerging clarity. Or maybe just a few basic facts.
I was on a plane. A plane that had just flown all night across the Atlantic. A plane bound for a corner of North Africa. A country which, when viewed cartographically, looks like a skullcap abreast a continent. According to the flight progress monitor illuminating the back-of-the-seat screen facing me, we were still seventy-three minutes and 842 kilometers (I was flying into a metric world) from our destination. This journey hadn’t been my idea. Rather I’d allowed myself to be romanced into it by the man whose oversize frame (as in six foot four) was scrunched into the tiny seat next to mine. The middle seat in this horror movie of an aircraft. No legroom, no wiggle room, every seat taken, at least six screaming babies, a husband and wife fighting in hissed Arabic, bad ventilation, bad air-conditioning, one-hour line for the bathroom after the plastic meal they served us, the rising aroma of collective night sweats hanging over this hellhole of a cabin. Thank God I had made Paul pack his zopiclone. Those pills induce sleep in even the most sleep-impossible conditions. I had put aside all my concerns about pharmaceuticals and asked him for one. It gave me three hours’ respite from this high-altitude sweatbox confinement.
Paul. My husband. It was a new marriage—just three years old. Truth be told, we loved each other. We were passionate about each other. We often said we were beyond fortunate to have found each other. And I truly believed that. Never mind that the day before we legalized our relationship and committed to each other for the rest of our lives, I was silently convincing myself that I could change some of Paul’s worrying inclinations; that, in time, things would tick upward, stabilize. Especially since we had decided that the moment was right to become parents.
Out of nowhere, Paul suddenly began to mumble something in his sleep, its incoherency growing in volume, indicating serious subconscious agitation. When it reached a decibel level that woke our neighbor—an elderly man sleeping in his gray-tinted glasses—I touched my husband’s arm, trying to rouse him out of his nightmare. It took several further unnerving moments of shouting before he snapped awake, looking at me as if he had no idea who I was.
“What . . . where . . . I don’t . . . ?”
His wide-eyed bemusement was suddenly replaced by the look of a bewildered little boy. “Am I lost?” he asked.
“Hardly,” I said, taking his hand. “You just had a bad dream.”
Douglas Kennedy is the author of eleven previous novels, including the international bestsellers The Moment and Five Days. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He divides his time among London, New York, and Montreal, and has two children. Find out more at DouglasKennedyNovelist.com.
“The best book about Morocco since The Sheltering Sky. Completely absorbing and atmospheric.”
– Philip Kerr
“Douglas does it again! This is the kind of novel you absolutely cannot put down, the kind that gets your pulse racing, to such an extent you have to switch off your phone, ignore your entourage, and devour to the very end. Brilliantly compelling, startling, and exotic, definitely one of Kennedy's best works.”
– Tatiana de Rosnay
“A gripping thriller, this book poses a universal question: how far are we prepared to go in pursuit of the truth, and do we really want the answers when we find them?”
– Louise Doughty
“Morocco—vividly described—is a shock of heat, smells, and searing colors…. Kennedy is one of the few writers to understand that people in love are basically insane; this love story darkens into a thriller as the methodical Robin pursues the truth. Romance noir, superbly written.”
– The Times (London)
“Kennedy has a knack for portraying characters readers love to hate.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Five Days:
“With Five Days, Douglas Kennedy has crafted a brilliant meditation on regret, fidelity, family, and second chances that will have you breathlessly turning pages to find out what happened in the past and what will happen next. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, it is a bracing new work of fiction by an internationally acclaimed writer at the height of his powers.”
– Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club
“The prolific Kennedy explores his favored themes of mortality, love, and loss in this fluidly written tale. Deftly depicting how certain choices can unexpectedly narrow a life, instead of expanding it, he has much to say about the nature of happiness, the difficulty of change, and the great divide between obligation and desire.”
“Kennedy ably raises questions about marriage, identity, and happiness.”
– Publishers Weekly
“…a fine tale of lives re-examined.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“A gripping emotional rollercoaster, pressing so many buttons it’s likely to have readers examining their own what-might-have-beens.”
– London Daily Mail
“Five Days delves exquisitely and painfully into how it is that people allow themselves to live lives of such tightly 'limited horizons.'”
– Portland Press Herald (Maine)
“A novel that's both moving and realistic as it broaches that awful chasm between what we could be and what we presently are."
– Independent (London)
Praise for The Moment:
“A passionate love-story-cum-spy-thriller set amid the secrets and shadows of Cold War–era West Berlin.”
Praise for Leaving the World:
“Leaving the World is a classy page-turner from a novelist who has become a cultural icon in Europe.... Kennedy's characters embark on long, complex, provocative journeys, and their ultimate strength is that -- like the writer -- they can throw off bright sparks in the dark.”
– Column McCann
“In his fast-paced, engrossing novels Douglas Kennedy always has his brilliant finger on the entertaining parts of human sorrow, fury, and narrow escapes. Wonderful.”
– Lorrie Moore
“Smart, stylish, and emotionally penetrating. Kennedy is a master storyteller, who never fails to keep you gripped until the last page.”