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The Final Bet [Hardcover]

Abdelilah Hamdouchi

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Book Description

May 15 2008 American University in Cairo Press
Casablanca. Othman, a handsome young Moroccan man, returns home to discover his elderly French wife, Sofia, brutally murdered in their bedroom. Highly educated but chronically unemployed, Othman had been in desperate straits before meeting Sofia, who pampered him with fancy cars, expensive clothes, and access to her mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood in Casablanca. But living with a woman more than forty years his senior was too much for Othman - before his wife's murder he sought relief in a steamy affair with an attractive young aerobics instructor, Naeema. The Moroccan police quickly zero in on Othman as the prime suspect in his wife's murder. But is he guilty? Did he kill his wife for the money and his lover? Or is he an innocent man, framed by circumstance and an overzealous and brutal police force? Abdelilah Hamdouchi's The Final Bet is the first Arabic detective novel to be translated into English. With it, Hamdouchi joins the ranks of Yasmina Khadra and Henning Mankell, finally bringing the modern Arabic novel to the global stage of detective fiction. (Previously announced as The Last Wager).

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Review

'the very existence of such a novel would have been unthinkable in previous decades in Morocco, in which even to utter the word 'police' was fraught with danger. Paradoxically, then, this novel of police corruption and violence is an important marker in Moroccan society's tentative steps away from arbitrary police power and towards the rule of law, and Arabia Books deserve credit for bringing it to a wider audience. ' New Internationalist 2009 'Hamdouchi has a nice, simple style that makes it an enjoyable read. Worthwhile. ' The Complete Review 2008 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Abdelilah Hamdouchi is one of the first writers of Arabic-language detective fiction. The author of eight novels, Hamdouchi is also an award-winning screenwriter for Moroccan television and cinema. All of his police novels, including The Final Bet, have been produced for Moroccan television. He lives in Rabat, Morocco. Jonathan Smolin is an Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Dartmouth College.

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous in Structure March 21 2013
By Susan Abraham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was held riveted by Hamdouchi's superb storytelling and finished this tale as a bedtime read in just over two hours. Here is a writer who knows how to cut to the chase and hone his talent for pace and plot-structure.

If I had to describe the plot in a paragraph, I would say this: A handsome young man, Othman returns home one night to find the woman he loathes, his wealthy dowager wife, Sofia, 40 years his senior - just think about it, she's 73 - stabbed to death while he himself sought an affair with a pretty aerobics instructor, Naeema. Through sinister alleyways, a grumpy Moroccan sleuth in Inspector Alwaar must discover the murderer. Alwaar is of the old school, harking back to the 70s and 80s, where the police were considered to be cruel and and as a result, much-feared. They were blamed for thousands of missing suspects and the abuse of human rights through the use of torture. There was said to be always a torture room in the basement of a police station.

Naturally, Othman's much-maligned love affair lead him straight to the police as an obvious suspect. The plot details the rough touch and intial rudeness of the detectives. The cantankerous sleuth in Alwaar and his colleagues badger their way around witnesses and use occasional force - why, nothing like a violent push or a bullying shout at an old woman in a tenement flat - and it's all in a day's work.

Alwaar whose life seems to be very much in keeping with France's own favourite sleuth in Inspector Maigret also like his French counterpart, owns up to the kitchen bustle of a fussy inquisitive wife. This, for a touch of necessary comedy. I wish that Hamdouchi had developed this specific scene as Alwaar's fictional wife would have added sharper depth, colour and interest to the plot. However, she fades off quickly as the story impatiently meanders on its way.

I found the sketching of these fictional police characters to be somewhat one-dimensional. However, Hamdouchi was brilliant at developing the psychological makeup of both Othman and Naema with a tireless dogged focus. Were the unlawful couple innocent? Did they really have no hand in the killing? Hamdouchi sketches out the lingering torment that blankets frightened minds and hearts with meticulous ease.

Only the arrival of a stranger and his insistence on new lines of thought, sheds light on the killer.

The Final Bet was translated by Jonathan Smolin.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book Jan. 12 2009
By Rick Stockhill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Very good book. Not long. Can be finished in a day or two. Easy to read & will give you a rudimentary knowledge of Morocco.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars no spoilers in this review June 17 2008
By jibli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this is pretty thin gruel ( no depth to the characters/ no interesting material/ a plot full of holes--but i won't spoil the plot by going into that)....striking cover and quality paper.....why was this book chosen for translation?.....i suspect a political agenda because the writing has nothing to recommend it.

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