Cumming’s novel is a throwback (and a welcome one) to the spy and espionage stories of the near term past. Kit Carradine is an author who’s forte is writing well received spy novels. He is known for researching locales for the books he writes. He is also known for being bored with his sedentary life and envies the spies he creates for their extremely active existences Instead of writing about them he would really enjoy being one of them. And that is where he is taken.
Kit is approached by an officer in MI6 who he has never met before with a proposition. He is asked to travel to Morocco and find a woman MI6 wants and just point her out to that officer. She has last been seen in the city of Marrakesh. Kit is offered a large sum of money for the job which is indicated as being one with no real danger involved. He jumps to take it and journeys to Morocco. Upon arrival he quickly is made aware that the woman,Lara Bartok, is actually a fugitive with ties to international terrorism. She is apparently a member of the “Resurrection” terror group that has attacked persons and places all over the world with murder as part of the scenario.
The author depicts Kit traveling all over Morocco after arriving in Casablanca as well as other cities in that country in order to locate Lara. The action is typical of the stories and happenings in many of the best spy novels of the past. Danger, a lot of it, with other spy agencies as well as “Resurrection” relentlessly after Lara.
There is a vast difference between Kit and other principals involved in spy and espionage tales. He is not infallible, he can be hurt, is bewildered by the actions of the different groups after Lara. He does have moments when he responds to a situation as many people would do if confronted with it showing strength and bravery. All and all Cumming gives us a good picture of a real hero in others. He has created a real person moving into the world of spies and agents and coming to grips with it as realistically as most of us might do in a like situation.
I am like most people in expecting leading characters in spy novels to behave like supermen. But certainly the change in pace depicted in “The Moroccan Girl” is a welcome one. The reader is of course faced with the question of what would they expect in a future novel about Kit Caradine in a situation again involved with spying and espionage. The ability of the author to create a book that is concerned with a situation involving spy-craft leads me to think that he would have Kit adapt to situations as they arrive; again as a normal individual, but with more real experience under his belt.
2/19 Paul Lane
THE MOROCCAN GIRL by Charles Cumming. St. Martin’s Press (February 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1250129956. 368p.