Rating: 3 Stars
I have always been a fan of old movies. From Humphrey Bogart to Paul Newman, from Ingrid Bergman to Grace Kelly, I have watched more old movies than new ones. Among some of my most favourite movies, are old classics like Gaslight, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Rebecca, Rear Window and North By Northwest to name a few.
When I first got my hands on Tangerine, it reminded me of my love for old movies, particularly Hitchcock movies. I was really looking forward to losing myself in that old black and white world with mysterious characters who are all potential psychopaths. Sadly, I was quite disappointed with what I read.
The book starts off promisingly enough, with the narrative shifting between two women; one, who seems flaky and disturbed, and one, who seems obsessed and psychotic. Soon, however, it starts dragging and being repetitive. It became so boring that I was seriously thinking of not finishing it at all.
Halfway through, I had a fair idea of what was going to happen, and there were no surprises in the narrative. Everything was quite predictable, especially for thriller buffs like me.
Alice Shipley is a young woman, who has moved to Tangier with her new husband, John, and is finding the whole experience, being married and in a new country, very overwhelming. She seems to be very high-strung and nervous in crowds. Her condition has put a strain on her married life, and her husband seems to be drifting away from her.
When Lucy Mason, whom Alice hasn’t seen in more than a year, rings her bell, Alice is shocked and at a loss. After all, the two were best friends and roommates in college, but things happened that caused a rift between them. Lucy, however, is eager to get their old camaraderie back; and Alice is thankful to have a familiar face in the strange new world she has stepped into.
As Lucy starts to insinuate herself back in her life, Alice starts having the same uncomfortable feeling she used to have back in college. John, on the other hand, is becoming more and more distant. When he disappears without a trace, Alice starts having doubts about the reality of everything around her. Suddenly, she is not sure about anything; Tangier, Lucy or her own sanity.
The best thing about this book is the setting which is reminiscent of old suspense movies, and it would have worked if the book had been narrated by one of the women. Having multiple narrators is a double-edged sword, especially for thrillers, where you don’t want to give too much away, while keeping things interesting enough. In this instance, reading both perspectives leaves nothing to the imagination, and I was able to guess pretty much the whole story quite early on.
I gave this book three stars because the story itself is interesting, and Tangier appears like a living thing in front of your eyes. Too bad these were the only good things in the book for me.