The Black Crescent by Jane Johnson

The Black Crescent is the story of an unassuming man at a turbulent time in Morocco’s history.

Hamou Badi walks a fine line between two worlds — he was born and raised in a traditional mountain village, but was educated and lives in the modern, French, Casablanca of the 1950s. He works for the Sureté, which makes him suspicious in the eyes of his cousins and other Moroccans he meets who are caught up in the revolution that will soon force out the French colons. A modern man, he carries the mark of a legend — a straight line across his palms that the superstitious believe makes him a “zhoury”: the child of humans and djinns who is gifted with great luck.

Hamou is a decent policeman, an observant Muslim and a good son despite being pulled in other directions by people and circumstances that encourage him to rebel against the French who employ him, to turn a deaf ear to his mother’s warnings about city women. He sends most of his salary to his mother and sisters, leaving him just enough for small pleasures — a cigarette on the roof of his apartment building in the evening, the occasional movie.

Hamou carefully navigates his increasingly unsettled times more by avoiding getting involved than by actively choosing a way, right up until his job demands more of him than his soul will allow.

Jane Johnson is a British novelist, historian and publisher. She is married to a Berber chef and divides her time between Wales and Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains. Her many books set in that country, including the lovely novel The Salt Road, are evidence of her great love of Morocco and its people.

The Black Crescent is more of a character study than a plot-driven novel. It is well-written, an easy read, and is undoubtedly historically accurate, but for the best part of the novel nothing much happens to its main character; Hamou is by choice an observer, not a participant. Things happen to him, around him, and he reacts. This is a quiet story about a quiet man.

Jane Johnson is a novelist, historian, and publisher. She is the UK publisher of many bestselling authors, including George R.R. Martin. She has written for both adults and children, including the bestselling novels The Tenth Gift and The Salt Road. Jane is married to a Berber chef she met while climbing in Morocco. She divides her time between London, Cornwall, and the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Connect with her on Twitter @JaneJohnsonBakr, on Facebook @Jane-Johnson-Writer, on Instagram @JaneJohnsonBakrim, or visit her website at

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 5, 2024)
Paperback 6″ x 9″ | 400 pages
ISBN: 9781668017500

Originally from Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, K.S. Covert lives and works in Ottawa. She is a former journalist whose work has appeared in nearly every newspaper in the country. She published her first novel, The Petting Zoos (Dundurn Press) in 2022, and is plugging away at her second.