This noir thriller (336 pages) was published in March of 2018 by HarperCollins. The book takes you to Tangier, Morocco. Melissa read Tangerine and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Set in the twisty alleys of a medina in Tangier, Morocco, this novel is a like a Hitchcock film translated to the page. With taut, evocative prose, it tells the story of two elusive heroines trapped in a complex relationship of love, jealousy, and betrayal.
In this stylish, entertaining thriller, our two protagonists — the always audacious Lucy and the painfully diffident Alice — are former best friends who met at Bennington College. They’ve had a mysterious falling out, and that conflict drives everything that befalls them.
They’re both deliciously unreliable narrators, so it’s unclear if they can be trusted. Do either of them honestly recall what really happened? An enticingly unsettled feeling floats over the entire narrative like the shimmery haze of a scorching day.
This story takes place in the 1950s, with a nod to American noir and a wink at Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Alice has moved to Tangier with her new husband, and she’s not adjusted well to her new life. As she struggles with anxiety, Lucy, Alice’s old frenemy, shows up unexpectedly. As the women fall into old patterns, a new mystery surfaces and the knots of tension twist tighter and tighter.
Tangier is located on the northwestern tip of Morocco, and it’s a fitting setting for this kind of story. After WWI, the city was declared an International Zone and was jointly ruled by nine different countries. It developed a glamorous and dangerous reputation that continued through the second World War. Tangier was a haven for smugglers, movie stars, washed-up secret agents, and ne’er-do-wells hoping to fly under the radar.
The evocative descriptions of the city and its sweltering, breathless atmosphere will transport you to mid-century Tangier — while the spiraling plot draws you into the stark shadows of a place that’s both threatening and enticing.
It is in these moments — when the air is thick and hot, threatening — that I can close my eyes and inhale, when I can smell Tangier again. It is the smell of a kiln, of something warm, but not burning, almost like marshmallows, but not as sweet. There is a touch of spice, something vaguely familiar, like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom even, and then something else entirely unfamiliar. — Christine Mangan
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