FIRST LIGHT. AND I didn’t know where I was anymore.
The sky outside: was it a curved rotunda of emerging blue? The world was still blurred at its edges. I tried to piece together my whereabouts, the exact geographic location within which I found myself. A sliver of emerging clarity. Or maybe just a few basic facts.
I was on a plane. A plane that had just flown all night across the Atlantic. A plane bound for a corner of North Africa. A country which, when viewed cartographically, looks like a skullcap abreast a continent. According to the flight progress monitor illuminating the back-of-the-seat screen facing me, we were still seventy-three minutes and 842 kilometers (I was flying into a metric world) from our destination. This journey hadn’t been my idea. Rather I’d allowed myself to be romanced into it by the man whose oversize frame (as in six foot four) was scrunched into the tiny seat next to mine. The middle seat in this horror movie of an aircraft. No legroom, no wiggle room, every seat taken, at least six screaming babies, a husband and wife fighting in hissed Arabic, bad ventilation, bad air-conditioning, one-hour line for the bathroom after the plastic meal they served us, the rising aroma of collective night sweats hanging over this hellhole of a cabin. Thank God I had made Paul pack his zopiclone. Those pills induce sleep in even the most sleep-impossible conditions. I had put aside all my concerns about pharmaceuticals and asked him for one. It gave me three hours’ respite from this high-altitude sweatbox confinement.
Paul. My husband. It was a new marriage—just three years old. Truth be told, we loved each other. We were passionate about each other. We often said we were beyond fortunate to have found each other. And I truly believed that. Never mind that the day before we legalized our relationship and committed to each other for the rest of our lives, I was silently convincing myself that I could change some of Paul’s worrying inclinations; that, in time, things would tick upward, stabilize. Especially since we had decided that the moment was right to become parents.
Out of nowhere, Paul suddenly began to mumble something in his sleep, its incoherency growing in volume, indicating serious subconscious agitation. When it reached a decibel level that woke our neighbor—an elderly man sleeping in his gray-tinted glasses—I touched my husband’s arm, trying to rouse him out of his nightmare. It took several further unnerving moments of shouting before he snapped awake, looking at me as if he had no idea who I was.
“What . . . where . . . I don’t . . . ?”
His wide-eyed bemusement was suddenly replaced by the look of a bewildered little boy. “Am I lost?” he asked.
“Hardly,” I said, taking his hand. “You just had a bad dream.”
“Where are we?”
“Up in the air.”
“And where are we going?”
He appeared surprised at this news.
“And why are we doing that, Robin?”
I kissed him on the lips. And posed a question:
The Blue Hour
Robin knew Paul wasn’t perfect. But he said they were so lucky to have found each other, and she believed it was true.
She is a meticulous accountant, almost forty. He is an artist and university professor, twenty years older. When Paul suggests a month in Morocco, where he once lived and worked, a place where the modern meets the medieval, Robin reluctantly agrees.
Once immersed into the swirling, white hot exotica of a walled city on the North African Atlantic coast, Robin finds herself acclimatizing to its wonderful strangeness. Paul is everything she wants him to be—passionate, talented, knowledgeable. She is convinced that it is here she will finally become pregnant.
But then Paul suddenly disappears, and Robin finds herself the prime suspect in the police inquiry. As her understanding of the truth starts to unravel, Robin lurches from the crumbling art deco of Casablanca to the daunting Sahara, caught in an increasingly terrifying spiral from which there is no easy escape.
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?
Douglas Kennedy on Morocco and ‘The Blue Hour'
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