I write as "Etienne de L'Amour" and "H.M. Forester".
Casablanca Blues is another exciting, gripping, fast-paced, well crafted and atmospheric read from travel writer turned fiction author Tahir Shah. Personally, I found this to be Shah's best fictional work thus far.
The central character of the book, Blaine Williams, is obsessed by the classic film Casablanca and its own stars, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and is going through a mid-life crisis. This doesn't last very long, however, for early in the book, Shah pulls the rug from under him, again and again. Although written in different genres, this reminded me of Catherine Cookson's trademark, in which time and again, she'd shock the reader or wake them from complacency by deliberately thwarting a character or throwing them in the deep end.
As the story and Blaine Williams' character develops, however, we see that what seems like cruel fate or bad luck is perhaps a blessing in disguise. What impedes Williams and pushes him into crisis actually drags him out of a hole. Rising to the occasion – however challenging – he is propelled forward into a whole new life, and liberation, that until then he could only have obsessed and fantasized about.
All the while the author, who lives in Morocco with his family, paints an entertaining and perceptive picture of life in the land, enticing the reader to go there and share the wonderful experience. As for the eventual outcome, I don't want to give away the storyline, except to say that it greatly pleased me.
In summary, Casablanca Blues is a great read and I heartily recommend it.
Disclaimer: I first began reading Idries Shah's work (Tahir Shah's father) in the mid-1980s and later came across Tahir Shah's own writing. I was asked if I would read through a pre-publication draft of the work in PDF format, but I was not asked to write a review. This is a voluntary and honest review.