Tangier, 1956. "This strange, lawless city that belonged to everyone and no one," home of expat Beats like Burroughs, Ginsburg, Kerouac, and, perhaps most famously, the muse of the criminally underappreciated author Paul Bowles ("The Sheltering Sky," "Let It Come Down," "The Delicate Prey"). Its twisted, dusty alleys, souks, and cafes with cups of steaming-hot mint tea become the chessboard on which our two expats, Alice and Lucy, will play out their gaslighting game of cat and mouse.
We first meet pale, fragile Alice, a wealthy British orphan who has moved to Tangier with her less-than-upstanding husband, John, and now, troubled by past memories, never leaves their apartment. One day her former Bennington College roommate, Lucy, arrives on their doorstep looking for a place to stay. What initially seems like a happy reunion is quickly revealed to be something much more sinister and complex.
Seeds of distrust have clearly been sown in the past and "the accident" that tore them apart a few years back puts Lucy's visit in a new and ominous context. As the story unfolds, Lucy's sexually ambiguous feelings for Alice add another layer that only serves to deepen the mystery of their past. When Lucy gives her name as Alice to a local con man, the stakes are raised and the suspense is ratcheted up another level.
Critical comparisons to Patricia Highsmith's "Ripley" novels are spot on. If she and Bowles had a literary lovechild, it would be Christine Mangan's tale of obsession gone wrong, "Tangerine."
(Note: George Clooney has already optioned the movie rights, with Scarlett Johansson set to star.)