Murder in the Tower of HappinessBy Mohamed M. Tawfik
When the first armchair smashed into the asphalt, Sergeant Ashmouni was at his usual spot on the median of the Nile Corniche, trapped by the road's twin currents turbulently flowing forth to Maadi and back to Old Cairo. He was wiping the sweat away from his eyes with his worn out sleeve - and in the process adding a new stain to his white traffic-police uniform - when surprise from the thunderous impact catapulted him into the fast lane of the side of the road closest to the Nile. Thus opens this fast-paced city thriller laced with dry humor that takes us inside Borg al-Saada - Tower of Happiness' - and inside the sordid lives and lavish lifestyles of its super-rich and famous denizens, including Kasib Bey, overweight, toupeed, and decked in gold chains; newly insomniac Abd al-Tawab Mabruk Basha (Tutu Basha to his friends); and, belly-dancer Lula Hamdi, who would be able to see Timbuktu if she stood on top of a pile of all her money. And of course there is Antar, the naughty boy who roams the tower, enters apartments, and overhears conversations, unsettling and exposing the decadent occupants and their relationships.