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.