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The Torch of Tangier (Lily Sampson Mysteries) [Hardcover]

Aileen G. Baron

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Book Description

30 Oct 2006 Lily Sampson Mysteries
Archaeologist Lily Sampson finds herself working at the American Legation on an undercover mission linked to Operation Torch. The target date: November 8, 1942. The mission: to control French Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, squash Rommel, and thrust into Europe's underbelly.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; US ed edition (30 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590582217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590582213
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 15.7 x 1.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,132,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

""Set in 1942, Baron's fast-paced second thriller/mystery featuring LilySampson (after 2002's A Fly Has a Hundred Eyes) finds the attractive archeologist working in Morocco, where her mentor, Prof. Hammond Drury, gets her involved with the clandestine activities of William ""Wild Bill"" Donovan, the real-life founder of the OSS. Lily and Hammond take cover jobs as part of the American legation in Tangier, while coded messages whiz back and forth in preparation for an Allied surprise offensive against Rommel. Foreign agents of several countries cast an eye on Lily, and two of herfriends meet violent ends in a whodunit subplot that borders on the simplistic. Baron may not meld political treachery, murder and historical detail as seamlessly as, say, Michael Pearce in his Egyptian historicals (Death of an Effendi), but the issues she raises about Western versus Islamic cultural values couldn't be more timely.""--Booklist

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exciting historical thriller 5 July 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Archeologist Dr. Drury entices dissertation candidate Lily Sampson to accompany him to a Tangier excavation of a Neanderthal site in the Cave of Hercules. She has been there for over a year and has seen it turn from an International zone into an area controlled by Spain. At present she cannot work because mud flooded the caves and the Spanish Governor denies the Americans access.

Dr. Drury confesses that he is OSS and had asked Lily to join his dig because she has skills that will prove useful to the Allies. Lily agrees to work for the American Legation on a top secret mission Operation Torch, the Ally landing of men to push out the Axis from North Africa. As she begins her assignment her mentor is killed and the key code box missing; Lily realizes that she must find it or Operation Torch will be compromised.

This exciting historical thriller gives the reader a first hand seat to the exotic North Africana region during 1942. Readers, like the heroine, are unsure who to trust as an ally today can be tomorrow's enemy. The protagonist is a strong-willed and courageous person who does her part to support the war effort, which means in her case being in danger at all times. Think Casablanca as Aileen G. Baron makes the past come vividly alive so that the audience will believe this is the beginning of a long friendship.

Harriet Klausner
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morocco - 1942 11 July 2009
By Lyn Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Baron's second story about the young luckless American Archaeologist Lily Sampson has her trapped in Tangiers, unable to return home given the Atlantic dangers of the German submarines. Her work digging up Neanderthal artifacts now halted, she is recruited into the OSS to help with Operation Torch, the code name for the proposed landing of U.S. forces on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco. The allies have succeeded at El Alemien and the British are on the ground in the Western Desert planning to move against Rommel. For the population in Tangiers questions remain. Will Spain maintain her neutrality? Where exactly are the German U-boats? How nationalistic, and thus potentially dangerous, had the Berbers become? Spies also abound, and Baron manages to never let the reader know whom one really can trust. When murders occur, the sense of intrigue and suspicion becomes a murky reality for Lily whose life is at risk.

Baron does a solid job describing the Berber population, Moroccan coastline, colorful byways of Tangiers, and Gibraltar with its wartime activities occurring deep within the rock's tunnels. Lily's interest in Morocco's distant past enters the narrative with reference to the world of the Neanderthals, the Romans, Latinized Berbers, and Moslem sultanate established by Moulay Idriss. As Lily muses, while her reality is the past, and her present a "moving pinnacle of time," they were really all of a piece.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tangier, setting for a World War II spy thriller 1 Sep 2013
By Pat Browning - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's 1942. Tangier is no longer an open city but teems with spies and counterspies. Anchoring this complex story are four sites. In Tangier, they are the El Minzah Hotel, the medina and the American Legation; Gibraltar houses Allied headquarters, with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in command.

Archaeologist Lily Sampson is trapped in Tangier. She was working at a dig in the Caves of Hercules and has no way back to the U.S. now that it has entered World War II. The man who was in charge of the dig recruits her into the OSS to work on preparations for an Allied invasion of North Africa, dubbed Operation Torch.

Major Adam Pardo, a Harvard professor now with Army Intelligence, tells her, "You'll operate secret radio networks, smuggle arms, build reliable connections with the natives." He adds that if she runs into trouble she's on her own.

This is a strange book. It's almost as if the author is reading it aloud in clipped tones, with no unnecessary verbiage. Yet her brief descriptions bring people and places into sharp focus. One example is this description of Gibraltar. "Russ" Russell, who works in the governor's office, shows Lily around. Quoting:

"The sleepy little town contrasted with the lazy bustle of Tangier. Neat gardens surrounded cottages; doors trimmed with polished brass caught the glare of late morning; shutters garnished the sun-drenched brightness of walls. Ahead of them, a man carried a basket of bread on his shoulder, trudging uphill.

"And over it all, the Rock.

"The taxi stopped at Casemate Square at the entrance to Main Street. Russ gestured toward a company of Scottish guards in green and yellow tartans lined up in formation before Government House.

"'Gordon Highlanders,'" he said. "'We're safe here on the Rock. Don't let the kilts fool you. They're brave and bloodthirsty. We call them the Ladies from Hell.'"

Other characters in this wartime spy story include:
*Hammond Drury, an archaeologist from the University of Chicago and a born swashbuckler, he's in charge of the Allied code known as "the recipe for blueberry pies."
*Clark MacAlistair came to Morocco as a journalist and is now with the British Secret Intelligence Service.
*Zaid Sutton, MacAlistair's lover, is half-English, half-Moroccan. He harbors a simmering resentment of westerners.
*Quentin Boyle is the Legation's charge d'affaires. A brusque, no-nonsense man he's not intimidated by the swaggering Lt. Periera of the Spanish Guardia Civil.
*Suzannah is the obligatory prostitute with a heart of gold.
*Warrant Officer Bluefield is assigned to the Legation in preparation for Operation Torch. He just graduated from the University of Chicago with a double major, linguistics and math, making him an expert in crypto-analysis. He's all fired up about a hush-hush code-breaking operation outside London "using symbolic logic, Boolean algebra, decision theory. Meta-mathematics they call it. It's not just Alice in Wonderland anymore."

These relationships flourish in the dark streets, walled villas and shadowy rooftops of Tangier, in the old tunnels of Gibraltar and the Caves of Hercules. The theme of this novel is best expressed in the thoughts of Lily:

(Quote)
She had one foot in the past, in the Roman world where conquerors came into Africa and brought their engineering genius, their villas with mosaic floors, their law courts and Byzantine churches. The past was her reality, with its surge of conqueror after conqueror that fashioned Morocco.

She thought of Bluefield, his mind poised on the cusp of the future. Neither of them lived in the present; both lingered on the moving pinnacle of time. ... (S)he thought she understood.

It was all of a piece.
(End Quote)
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Setting and plot Interesting, characters a little problematic. 18 May 2011
By John H. Manhold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Torch of Tangier, ISBN 9781615952632, Poisoned Pen Press, e-book version by Aileen G. Baron is most difficult to evaluate. The author knows, and has provided, the physical setting, the politics, and the elements of the time essential to her plot. However, her management of the characters provides a slight problem for this reader.
Lily Samson, a young archeologist who has several digs under her belt, arrives in Tangier ostensibly to assist Hammond Drury at some digs in the Caves of Hercules. The time is during WW II when Morocco is under Spanish and some Vichy French influence. Lily arrives, there is flooding in the dig site so, with a shift and ancillary appointment to the Legation, she gradually assumes duties other than those anticipated. With her additional knowledge of anthropology and a working knowledge of Spanish, French and Arabic, her job is to prepare pamphlets on the cultural history of the area - physical characteristics, social organization, kinship, etc. But she discovers that she is to perform still another job. Drury, who we gain the impression is OSS (not apparent until somewhat later), needs help is sending messages to an Allied landing party waiting to strike. He approaches Lily, who accepts the assignment.
Lily, in her various positions, becomes associated with a diverse group of characters and there seems to be a hint that each is involved in other than their apparent occupation. They include: Clark McAlistair and his constant companion, a Rif named Zaid who has a sinister position within the group, Tarzig, a Berber who appears at intervals, Armand Korian, a Legation employee who constantly is making unwanted advances to Lily, Quentin Boyle, the head officer of the Ligation, Major Adam Pardo, a late-arriving G2 Army Officer, Suzannah, a prostitute who also seems to be more than what she appears, and German spies, Berber ruffians and numerous other lesser characters.
With respect to the mechanics of this book, the setting, period in time and plot for an Allied invasion are most realistic, as stated, and the story moves along satisfactorily. The presentation and deployment of the characters is more difficult to accept. Their actions, no doubt in an effort to maintain an aura of danger and suspense, appear to be plot-driven in a mechanical way so the reader often is `attempting to catch-up'. For example: One has to assume that Drury is working for the OSS, and that McAlistar and Zaid, as well as Tarzig, also are involved, but more as adjuncts. Korian's position in the scheme of things never seems to be solidified. It also is difficult for a reader to identify Lily's character. She is difficult to picture as a person involved in the derring-do activities in which she becomes involved as is her rather rapid change of heart - she is desolate upon learning of the death of `the love of her life', but very quickly is able to transfer these feelings to a new Adam. And this establishment of the new relationship with Adam seems to be somewhat contrived. Zaid's activities at the conclusion of the story, with no previous hint, is difficult to accept, His ability to arrive back in Tripoli for the concluding activities similarly provides some strain in credibility.
To conclude, therefore, the author has demonstrated a knowledge of the physical requirements for the story and has provided a fast moving plot that is held back by inconsistencies in character development and interrelationships. However, if a reader does not find these factors too distracting, The Torch of Tangier probably will provide several hours of light entertainment. Reviewed by John H. Manhold, award winning fiction/non-fiction author.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tangier Story Catastrophe 27 Nov 2013
By David Island - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
“The Torch of Tangier” by Aileen G. Baron is not a very good read. The characters are all simplistic and stereotypical and virtually all of the scenarios are unlikely and a bit ridiculous. I do wonder if Ms. Baron has ever been to Tangier? It is at best a mediocre to poor novel, though its setting in Tangier is exotic and the World War II era is historic. Don’t bother. Read something by Alan Furst instead.

The characters, plot and overall feeling of the book are confusing to chaotic. At no time was I ever able to keep the multitude of cast members straight, with clear knowledge as to their role and function in the story. Dialogue is awkward at best. Super-Woman Sampson neither thrills nor enlightens. She more-or-less stumbles into her “heroic” role. She is definitely hard to like and respect.

In a nutshell, the only things going for this story are a) the setting, and b) the era. All else is barely a step above rubbish.

Thus, a 1.75, reluctantly upgraded to a 2.0 on Amazon’s rating scale.
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