cover image Tangier


Stephen Holgate. Blank Slate, $16.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-943075-28-7

Holgate’s thoughtful first novel generates suspense by alternating between two related stories. In 1995, 55-year-old Christopher Chaffee, a disgraced U.S. government bureaucrat, travels from Washington, D.C., to Tangier, Morocco, to find out what happened to his father, French diplomat Rene Laurent, whom he never knew. Rene supposedly died in a Vichy prison in 1944, but a letter written by Rene from Tangier in 1940 to Christopher’s mother, and finally delivered to her decades later, suggests that he may still be alive. Back in 1940, Rene has sent his wife to safety across the ocean but is unable to escape from Tangier. In trying to find his way in a city rife with spies and wartime intrigue, he takes refuge with Madame Charlotte Wald, a mysterious Frenchwoman whose German last name raises questions. In parallel, Christopher gets little help from Tangier officials and hears confusing stories from people who might have known his father, including former spies. In the end, Christopher not only manages to learn his father’s fate but also gains much insight into his own life in an adventure that is truly transformative and convincing. [em](May) [/em]