Whatever the original language, sentences like the following do nothing but get in the way:
“Liz Markham reared back, completely stalled by the human mass that confronted her.”What's the difference between stalled and completely stalled? What does completely add? What does it do except slow down what the author clearly intends as a heart-pounding opening?
“Behind her she heard someone make a remark that she couldn’t understand.”Why the extra words? Why not “she heard a remark” or “someone made a remark”?
“Glancing back, certain that someone was behind her, she moved away from the hotel, pushing impatiently through the crowd of tourists and tea boys...”Pushing impatiently? How else would one push through a crowd? Yet again Bilal tells rather than shows and uses too many boring words doing it. That's apt to try a reader's patience, especially in an action scene.
My first guess was apparently wrong, but I'll try another: Mahjoub, described by some sources as an acclaimed author of “literary” novels, can't write action. I hope either that I'm wrong or that he chooses methods other than action scenes to tell his story, because I'm curious about what this writer of Arabic and African background can do with the Western crime-fiction tradition, a la Yasmina Khadra or Naguib Mahfouz.
Here's part of a blurb for the novel:
“Makana, a former Sudanese police inspector forced to flee to Cairo, is now struggling to make ends meet as a private detective. In need of money, he takes a case from the notoriously corrupt mogul Saad Hanafi, owner of a Cairo soccer team, whose star player, Adil Romario, has gone missing ..."P.S. An author chooses Parker Bilal as a pseudonym for his first venture into crime fiction. What are the odds that he had Richard Stark or Robert B. Parker in mind?
P.P.S. Read my 2008 post on “Who will be the next Samir Spade? ... (Crime fiction in the Arab world)”
© Peter Rozovsky 2012