The Black Crescent by Jane Johnson

The Black Crescent – AD sent for review

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review

I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance copy of The Black Crescent by Jane Johnson, published next month through Head of Zeus. Set in Morocco during the 1950s, this is truly a beautifully written story of a divided country, murder, traditions and family.  I was hooked from the start. France has occupied Morocco since the early 1900s and resentment and rebellion is growing.

The Black Crescent by Jane Johnson

In The Black Crescent, we meet the central character, Hamou Badi who spent his childhood in a village called Tiziane within the Anti-Atlas mountains.  In 1929 his cousin Moha was visiting from the city of Casablanca, and Hamou found him and his city ways rather strange. During the visit, Hamou makes a discovery which will shape his future, the body of a Berber woman.  No one is interested in finding justice for this young woman, and Hamou vows to become a policeman when he’s older and to treat people equally. People believe that Hamou has special powers as he was born with the sign of the Zouhry on his palms.  Zouhry are believed to be able to find hidden water, lost objects and are held in awe amongst their communities.

He is now living in Casablanca, it’s 1955 and he’s fulfilled his dream to work within the police department and he has stuck to his belief that all are equal and should be treated with respect.  That’s shown throughout The Black Crescent with his relationship with the street beggar Didi.  Hamou offers him nothing but kindness. He rents a room in a shared house and finds cooked meals on his doorstep from the Chadli family who live downstairs.

Within Casablanca the power of the French leadership is felt strongly, there is much injustice, cruelty and discrimination.  A nationalist uprising is simmering and a faction called The Black Crescent is rumoured to be taking matters into its own hands.

Within this turmoil it becomes clear that Hamou has feeling for Zina, one of the Chadli daughters, but could there be more to her and her family than meets the eye?

As tensions rise, Hamou is put in an impossible situation, working for the French, and being ordered to fire on his own people,  It goes against everything he believes in and he cannot bring himself to follow orders.  But will this dereliction of duty bring about his death?

I won’t give away any more of the plot, but it’s well worth reading The Black Crescent for yourself.  It’s a captivating novel, set in turbulent times when unforgivable things happened.  Hamou is a truly believable character and as the plot twists and turns you really want him to succeed in uncovering truths long hidden and for Morocco to gain back it’s own voice.  I can thoroughly recommend The Black Crescent.

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