Morocco, 1906. The country is caught between growing European influence and domestic instability.
As young women disappear from the alleyways of Marrakesh, Farook Al-Alami, a detective from Tangier, is summoned to solve the case of the apparent abductions.
Investigating crimes in a country without a police force, Farook enters Marrakesh on the orders of the Sultan. But, in a city under siege from famine and fear, he must rely on his own intuition and skill to uncover the mystery of the women’s fate.
Will anything halt the spate of disappearances until then? And can a single, criminal pair of hands lie behind events? As the story of the missing women becomes increasingly treacherous, the tension escalates around Jemma el-Fna, where the dead assemble.
‘The Assembly of the Dead is like peering through a keyhole into Morocco at the turn of the last century. Saeida Rouass describes Marrakech so vividly that you are instantly transported into its alleyways and souks; you can almost smell the cinnamon, saffron and cayenne of the street stalls and hear the donkey carts and the hypnotic wails of the muezzin. The plot is as labyrinthine as the layout of the Red City itself. This is a beautiful addition to the literature of Morocco and a must read for any traveller.’ – Richard Hamilton, author of The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco
‘Saeida Rouass is a brilliant writer, poised at the cultural crossroads between East and West. As a result, she has the rare and extraordinary ability to perceive Morocco — the land of her ancestors — in a way that few from the Western world would ever be able to match. Just as she can see Morocco as Moroccans themselves see it, she’s able to describe it in such a way so as to be absorbed by the Occidental mind. Elegant, thought-provoking, intriguing, and utterly charming, The Assembly of the Dead establishes Saeida Rouass as an important writer — one of only a handful who bridges these two cultures so expertly. I recommend this book, and any work to which Rouass puts her name.’ – Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph’s House
‘A heinous crime, a cover-up, Saeida Rouass breathes life into a grim 1001 Nights tale set in Marrakesh a hundred years ago. In its depiction of a city caught between famine and terror, The Assembly of the Dead is more than your typical “whodunit.” Rouass’ carefully researched psychological and political thriller convincingly evokes the fraught nature of the times and the tense moment just before Morocco—the last piece in France’s colonial puzzle—was about to fall into place. And watching over it all, with existential sang froid and an unerring commitment to justice, is Farook, Rouass’ memorable detective from Tangier. The Assembly of the Dead is a compelling read whose characters and story remain long after the last page is turned. – Jonathan Katz, author of Murder In Marrakesh: Emile Mauchamp and the French Colonial Adventure