The Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy

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The Blue Hour
The Blue Hour by Douglas KennedyThe Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy
Published by Atria Books on February 16th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

With his acclaimed ability to write thought-provoking page-turners, Douglas Kennedy takes readers into a world where only Patricia Highsmith has ever dared. The Blue Hour is a roller-coaster journey into a heart of darkness that asks the question: What would you do if your life depended on it?


As a young girl, my inclination toward reading developed as a way for me to get out of whatever space I physically and mentally inhabited; I’ve never been a huge fan of crowds, noisy places and loud voices but, while reading, I can tune all of that out and focus on a completely different world. The more this environment differs from my own, the more deeply entrenched I seem to become, and that feeling of being swept away is delightful. Other than it being described as “completely absorbing and atmospheric” and one of the “best books about Morocco,” I didn’t know a lot about The Blue Hour; since I love being transported to other countries, cultures and environments through reading, I thought I’d give it a try.

The story begins somewhat predictably: Robin, an accountant who has just hit the big 4-0, is married to Paul, a hipster artist who is 18 years her senior; she loves that he’s completely ruled by his creative tendencies…until she doesn’t. These things rarely work out, even in the movies, because no accountant can handle being around a flighty creative type who can’t seem to get their life organized.

So, the first impression I had of Paul Leuen was someone who – unlike the rest of us members of the workaday world – had somehow managed to avoid all the pitfalls of routine life. And I had always wanted to fall in love with an artist. We are often attracted to that which runs contrary to our nature.

Paul receives an offer to travel to Morocco and, in an effort to rekindle their relationship, Robin decides to tag along. She lines things up at work and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime; those of you who have traveled to foreign countries know that these adventures rarely pass without a few wild rides, and I was highly entertained by the vivid descriptions of their travels. 

As we drove off we ran into a small flotilla of geese and chickens, herded alongside the city walls by a man in a white djellaba and skullcap. The driver honked his horn in a short, nonchalant manner, indicating that the shepherd should get his livestock out of the way. Nearby was a man wheeling a barrel filled with unrefined cotton. And – this was hallucinatory – a fellow sitting in front of a basket, intoning a tune on a reedy instrument as a python ascended upward from the straw hoop.

Just as I began to fear that this was going to be a beautifully-written, yet somewhat boring, tale…Paul goes missing. I’m not going to share any spoilers, other than to say that this event marks the beginning of a completely different narrative and journey for Robin which is dangerous, ridiculous, scary and questionable. It’s no secret that I enjoy flawed, broken characters, but this was a little over the top for me and wandered into some strange combination of romance/suspense territory. 

Regardless of whether you enjoy the story line, I have to say that it was (mostly) worth reading for the scenery; I’ve never traveled to Morocco, but Kennedy had me dreaming. I could hear the noises along the street, smell the sidewalk vendors and see the locals as clearly as if I were in front of all of them.

The lawn-mower chop of motorbikes and scooters, their drivers beeping manically as they negotiated the dirt-surfaced potholed terrain, dodging stands piled high with van Gogh-ish oranges and mangoes, and vegetable stalls where the tomatoes were primary in their redness.

It didn’t take me long to finish this one and I found that Kennedy shares plenty of life lessons via his struggling heroine. I might not suggest this one for a book club read (due to mentions/descriptions of sexual violence that may be tough for some) but, when it’s windy and cold and wet outside, a trip to Morocco might be just the thing you need.

The greatest impediment we all have in life is our very own self.

 

three-stars

About Douglas Kennedy

The Blue Hour

Douglas Kennedy is the author of twelve novels, including the international bestsellers The Big Picture, The Pursuit of Happiness, Leaving the World and The Moment. His most recent novel is now available in the US & Canada under the title The Blue Hour, as The Heat of Betrayal in the UK and other English-speaking countries, and as Mirage in France. More than 14 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide and his work has been translated into 22 languages. He is currently working on his thirteenth novel.

  • ChristinaBookAddict

    I love when books transport us to exotic locales. This one sounds really suspenseful and it’s new to me, so thanks for putting it on my radar. Great review!

  • Diane D

    I so want to try this one. I love when a book really transports me to another locale.

  • Kay

    So, was it the fact that you got more of a suspense story (when you didn’t expect it) that bothered you or was it that the suspense was not believable? Just curious. The locale and descriptions you shared were kind of fascinating. And, yes, my reading has often been a ‘Calgon, take me away…’ type thing. I feel I’ve traveled all over the world through books.

    • Kay, I enjoy suspense so I think it was more the fact that it was rather unbelievable; the second half was such a departure from the first half, and tough for me to reconcile. Other than that, the writing is beautiful and I loved the descriptions of Morocco! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • I really liked the first part of this one….but could not stand the second half. Ridiculous is a good word for Robin…that’s what I thought of her and consequently couldn’t buy into the story in the second half 🙁 Her actions were just totally inexplicable to me. Haha….

    • I know, Sarah, and that was really disappointing to me; this one started out well and then it was tough to reconcile the second half with the first. I felt somewhat guilty, knowing you’d picked it up based on my early comments; I was hoping maybe you’d have a different response – ha! Oh, well…so it goes. Thanks so much!