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Saturday, 7 October 2017

‘Murder in Morocco’ by Judith Cranswick

Published by Liden Press,
18 September 2018. 
Kindle Edition. ASIN:

Murder in Morocco starts with a prologue that lays the basis for the crimes committed later in the book. The rest of the narrative is in the First-Person viewpoint of Harry, an ineffective and timid young man in his early thirties. Harry’s father died when he was three and he has been brought up by his doting mother and two of her sisters, Harry’s old-fashioned and extremely critical aunts. They live in a manner that has been untouched by the changes of time or modern technology.

During his childhood Harry was the only child and the only male member of the family. He feels as if he has never been able to do anything right in his aunts’ eyes, especially as he is unemployed, having lost his job in ignominious circumstances.

Harry visits his family for Christmas. He should feel eager to tell them that he has been offered a new temporary job, as assistant to a popular academic who is giving a series of lectures on art, architecture and history on an expensive cultural tour of Morocco. However, Harry knows the storm of outrage and protest his announcement will evoke. The lecturer is his third and favourite aunt, Aunt Jessica, the black sheep of the family.

As a young woman, Aunt Jessica had been the pride of her family when she attended Oxford University. However, she had abandoned her degree and run away with her lecturer, an eminent academic. They had spent many years together, travelling and exploring the cultural jewels of the world. When he died, Jessica carried on and is now a respected authority in her own right and the author of several books.

Jessica is different from her sisters in nearly every way. She is witty, glamorous, generous and cosmopolitan. Harry is aware that there are scandals surrounding Aunt Jessica’s past and he suspects she has offered him the job as her assistant out of kindness and the desire to give him a good holiday, but he is delighted to accept her invitation to visit such an exciting destination and knows he will enjoy travelling in a luxury he has not been able to afford before.

The tour starts well and everybody seems to be enjoying themselves, apart from a man and woman whose partners have embarked on a flagrant affair. Harry feels pursued by Carrie, the only other young and single member of the party, who is clearly unaware that Harry is gay. When Carrie tells Harry that she thinks the tour party is being followed by a man that she has noticed several times, he does not take her seriously, thinking that she is imagining things or is making a drama to get his attention.

A murder occurs, and then another. Harry is a watcher of people rather than a participant in dramas and he is certain that the police are on the wrong track. He sets himself the task of working out who is the killer in their midst but his detective work backfires. Fortunately for Harry, Aunt Jessica has always been several steps ahead of him in the deduction game.

Murder in Morocco is the first book in a new series featuring Aunt Jessica. It is an enjoyable book, with lots of lively characters and wonderful descriptions of the art and architecture of Morocco. Aunt Jessica is a delight – funny, generous, quick-witted and knowledgeable. She is a character most readers will be happy to spend time with. At the start of the narrative Harry is ineffectual and self-pitying and it is pleasant to see him grow in character and become much more engaging and likeable as the book progresses.

It is always fun to be in at the start of a new series and this is a book that I would recommend. I look forward to reading more about Aunt Jessica and Harry when they set off on their next journey.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading, and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

Read a review of Carol’s latest book
The Fragility of Poppies

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