Douglas Kennedy, The Heat of Betrayal
Life, they say, is a great teacher. But only if we are truly willing to shake off our illusions and self-deceptions.
Paul and Robin are in love. In many ways, they are opposites, which is part of their attraction to each other (“We are often attracted to whatever is contrary to our nature“) : Robin is careful with money while Paul is a flamboyant spender, Robin has a sensible job as an accountant, while Paul is an artist, Robin is a bit of a control freak, while Paul is easygoing. All is not perfect between them, but they overcome their differences, and the sex is great. But one day, as they spend one month in Morocco, Robin discovers that Paul has committed the ultimate betrayal, a betrayal so serious that she can never forget him. She leaves him an angry note and proof of the deed, but when she comes back, Paul has vanished…
From there on begins a race against time for Robin to find her husband, because even if she can’t forgive him, she still wants to face him and hear what he has to say, and besides, she feels responsible for him, like she would for a kid. From Essaouira to Casablanca and from Casablanca to Ouarzazate, Robin pursues her elusive husband like a mirage, encountering looming dangers along the way, and discovering many unpleasant truths about the man she thought she knew. And of course, when you think the main character’s situation cannot get worse, it does, as always in Kennedy’s novels… But as the narrator says “we really are the architects of our own miseries, aren’t we?“
The Heat of Betrayal is a captivating novel about the dangers of falling in love for the wrong reasons, about how well we can know the other person in a couple, and about betrayal and the possibility of forgiveness and redemption, which don’t always come in the form we expect.
Douglas Kennedy is very good at conveying a sense of place, and, as his Berlin in This Moment was incredibly tangible for the reader, so is his Morocco. The readers will feel like they have followed the characters in their travels, they will be assaulted by the smells, sounds and sights of the souk, or feeling the jolts and bumps of a night bus to nowhere. Once again, the readers will be traveling to hell and back along with one of Kennedy’s characters.
No doubt they will enjoy the ride as I did…