Did you know that your nose becomes engorged with blood when you lie and this causes a tingly or itchy sensation which requires a nose rub to soothe it? So the next time you talk to someone, watch out for that snout stroke cue, but don’t rule out the possibility that it may be an innocuous itch! You will learn more body language reading tips in Ahmed Mourad’s new thriller novel ‘The Blue Elephant’ through Dr. Yehia Rashed, the shrewd psychiatrist, narrator, and main character.

Yehia tells his story the day he received the dismissal warning letter from Abbasiya Mental Hospital that disrupted his 5 years of voluntary oblivion. He resumed his work as a Psychiatrist in section ‘East 8′, the section that decides the sanity and fate of crime perpetrators. One of the inmates was his old friend Sherif Elkordy, a psychiatrist too ironically, who had been accused of murdering his wife Basma–shoved naked off the 30th floor! The two friends’ encounter opened a Pandora’s box and rekindled an old romance with Lobna, Sherif’s helpless sister. Throughout the novel, Yehia tried to psychoanalyze and investigate Sherif’s case and peculiar tattoo; did he or did he not murder his beloved wife and if he did, was he aware, and why? Finding answers upturned Yehia’s once stable and apathetic life.

The first lines clearly revealed the sarcastic, self-loathing tone of the narrator, as well as his wayward lifestyle represented in beer bottles, weed, poker, and “The three most important inventions to mankind: electricity, alcohol and Maya!” Maya is the sizzling character that appeared in the first page as Yehia’s physical associate. Maya’s role was not merely sensual; it became life changing when she introduced Yehia to “The Blue Elephant for travel and tourism” that took him repeatedly to a mystifying unexplored world, where he came out as a different person! Those spooky journeys, coupled with Absinthe and Jack Daniel’s, unravelled dark secrets and implicated Yehia in Sherif’s case.

Ahmed Mourad, author of Vertigo and Diamond Dust, is a well-read Egyptian novelist and photographer. He engages his readers by mixing fact with fiction and colloquial with formal Arabic. He also adds a dollop of contextual English phrases to materialize his stories.

Mourad’s vivid imagination will make you petrified like Sherif, woozy like Yehia, chant Fayrouz with Lobna, smell violet like the odour of Indian incense, hear smashing beer bottles, watch National Geographic on Yehia’s TV, admire Maya’s blue nail polish, tap into psychology and taboos like alcohol, psychedelics, and unspoken desires. You will drop in at contemporary places like Abbasiya Hospital, Osman Towers in Maadi, Sequoia and Deals in Zamalek, and Drinkie’s in Heliopolis as well as historical places like Bab Zuwayla and Sabil Nafisah Al-Bayda!

The Blue Elephant is a gripping psychological thriller novel with a dash of romance, lust, blood, violence, voodoo, and a handful of quips. You’ll read this book in big chunks and the creepy end will disrupt your bedtime routine for a day or two!


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