cover image Send a Fax to the Kasbah

Send a Fax to the Kasbah

Dorothy Dunnett. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $21.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-15-180812-0

Well known for her historical novels ( Niccolo Rising ; The Spring of the Lamb ), Dunnett also turns her literate pen to thrillers, producing here a sprightly but excessively convoluted tale. When a bomb goes off in the London headquarters of Kingley Conglomerates (aka King Cong), the detonator accidentally becomes a victim. Or so it seems until it is discovered that the man was shot before the blast. Who was he, and what was he doing at the acquisition-minded company? Before these questions can be answered, Sir Robert Kingsley, the chairman of the board, his ambitious secretary and her mother (for reasons wholly unfathomable) are whisked away to Morocco to undertake delicate negotiations for the purchase of a cosmetics concern. The ensuing story features corporate takeovers and industrial espionage, and involves ex-SAS and Foreign Legion officers, Canadian journalists and a renowned portrait painter who may not be what he appears. Dunnett draws her characters well, especially as she captures the casual bigotry of the British upper class. She also skillfully evokes the North African locale where most of the action takes place. The tale is timely--for those who are not tired of reading about double-dealing on the corporate scene--and obviously written as a lark; readers should approach it in that spirit. (May)