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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Quick Stop

Just stopping by for a quick check-in this evening.  I've been out-of-town the last couple of days to attend a family funeral and that has limited both my reading and my blogging efforts.  I think I went through internet withdrawal pains last night when I realized I would have to go for more than 24 hours without access to the net.  I'm almost embarrassed to mention how "lost" I felt.

I did start a mystery by Algerian author Yasmina Khadra called Moritouri.  The novel is set in Algiers during some of the worst of the Moslem infighting that happened there in the1990s and 2000s.  I am particularly intrigued by the novel because I lived in Algiers for more than a year just when the chaos was beginning there.  In fact, the U.S. government and my employer evacuated us from the city in late 1993 just when things were getting out of hand.  I was so naive while living there that I walked the streets alone for hours at a time, wondering why I was getting so many dirty looks and the silent treatment from everyone but some of the children.  This was just weeks before Western hostages started being taken in Algiers - when they were not just immediately taken and beheaded.  I was stupid - and lucky.

I did sense that there was a very corrupt and decadent "underground" society there that the rich and powerful exploited for their own purposes but it was all kept very quiet and secret because, after all, Algeria is a Muslim country and "that kind of thing doesn't happen in a Muslim country."  Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, an ex-officer in the Algerian army (an army that was as brutally murderous as the terrorists it fought).  He is now in French exile and has revealed his true identity.

Now, Morituri is very "noir" in tone; that is,very dark with lots of exaggerated "attitude" on the part of its hero, so I don't really know how to judge it on the realism scale.  That, though, is part of the fun - Yasmina Khadra has created an Algerian Philip Marlowe, out-Chandlering Raymond Chandler himself.
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