As Casablanca sleeps into the early morning hours amid the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, a criminal lurks in the shadows carrying with him two plastic bags that he tosses into a dumpster before dawn breaks. A madman is on the loose in the largest city of Morocco, and Detective Hanash is about to wake to the news in “The Butcher of Casablanca” by Abdelilah Hamdouchi.
In the second book of the Detective Hanash series, fear grips Casablanca’s residents as a killer who mutilates bodies and dumps them around the city runs amok. The perpetrator knows how the police force works, which means he knows how to evade them. But Detective Mohamed Bineesa, also known as Hanash or the “Snake,” has a sixth sense for solving crimes. Things may be changing, he may be getting older and Casablanca may be evolving politically, but the streets and neighborhoods are still his to protect.
Born in 1958, Hamdouchi has written numerous crime novels and is one of the most prolific crime fiction writers and screenwriters in the Arab world. Translated by Peter Daniel, Hamdouchi’s main character, Detective Hanash, comes to life as a less-than-perfect man but for his keen sense of investigating and catching criminals. Detective Hanash stands among an ever-changing landscape, one in which he has had to adapt.
No longer is it the “Years of Lead” when the police were known to torture information out of suspects, even if false. This is Morocco after the Arab Spring and the police have reformed. With the new era however, comes new crime.
Hamdouchi paints a vibrant landscape of not just Casablanca but of Detective Hanash and his family. They, like Hanash, are held hostage to his job. His higher-ups want results as the media runs rampant with declarations about the criminal, but the grunt work still must be done, amid a family who is hanging onto one another by a thread.
With a penchant for American serial killer movies, the criminal keeps Detective Hanash on the move as he navigates a world that is new to him, one that is violently heartless and cold. Serial killers are not common in Morocco and Detective Hanash wants to keep it that way in this fast-paced, contemporary crime adventure that keeps readers gripped until the end.