Publisher: Quercus Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe
An intense, claustrophobic psychological novel about the dark side of expat life, and what being out of your comfort zone can do to you, set in the vibrant souks and ancient riads of Marrakech
A unique friendship, built on a lie
Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.
A move that would change all their lives.
The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco.
A city where nothing is as it seems
Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.
‘Are you ready, monsieur?’
Hamad glanced down at the book; the signature was unrecognisable. His fingers had
locked around the pen; the final i was turning into an elongated r as the weight of his hand dragged the nib across the page. ‘I need a moment.’
His phone vibrated; the screen glowed brightly in the dim light. Freya. He didn’t have
the words. Not yet.
‘OK.’ What was he waiting for? To feel better?
‘Shall we proceed?’
Hamad nodded. His gums were coated with a thin, sour liquid; his palms slid greasily
against the weave of his jeans. The man gestured towards the strip-lit corridor, following closely behind. His shoes clicked on the grubby linoleum.
‘Ici.’ He slipped a key into a metal door, heaved it open with a grunt. Thin,
refrigerated air rushed at them. Hamad shivered. ‘Through here.’
The room smelt of cleaning fluid and something odd, like stale tea. An older man was
leaning against a desk; sallow-skinned with thinning hair. The gendarme muttered something in Darija, pointed to the large steel cabinet that took up most of the far wall. Hamad had seen enough films to know what it was. Six compartments. Six bodies. Even in his state of shock he could feel the grotesqueness of the situation. He had always been unusually squeamish.
The balding man pulled down the handle on one of the panels, slotting his fingertips
underneath to lever out the drawer. The runners squealed. Lying on the shelf was something wrapped in what looked like white plastic.
‘Are you ready?’
‘I am.’ He smoothed his thumb and forefinger over his beard. The plastic sheet
crackled as it was peeled away. He glanced down. The body was discoloured, mustard and purple bruises spreading like faded ink beneath the skin. Her hair was smoothed back from her forehead, lashes long against her cheeks. The room swung gently. He reached out his hand to steady himself on the corner of the gurney.
‘Monsieur. Is this . . . ?’
Hamad closed his eyes for a moment; he felt disorientated, unable to process what
he was seeing. A word rose in his throat; he swallowed hard.
‘I understand this is difficult.’ The man’s voice was surprisingly gentle. ‘But can you… ?’
‘Monsieur Al-Bouskri? My apologies, but I must be clear. You are saying this is . . . ?’
‘Yes.’ His fingernails bit into the skin on his palms. He looked into the man’s blank
face. ‘This is the body of Racine Delacroix.’
After sixteen years as an award-winning travel and features journalist, writing for The Times and many other national broadsheets and magazines, Annabelle made the transition to fiction with The People We Were Before, the tale of a young boy and his family living through the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The book was born of her experiences in travelling to Croatia for over thirty years, and witnessing the country’s spectacular fall and rise.
As a travel writer, she has visited over 50 countries, including driving through the Omani desert, trekking in the New Zealand rainforest, learning (and failing) to sail in Bermuda and narrowly escaping being run over in Tripoli. Her fiction brings in locations she knows intimately; Croatia in The People We Were Before, and Marrakech and Qatar in her second novel, What Lies Within, published in April 2018.