Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal (writing as Cameron Kay) is a pulp novel, rediscovered after sixty years, about a broke American in post-WWII Cairo who gets involved in smuggling, intrigue, and revolution (available April 21, 2015).
This novel comes with comparisons to Casablanca right on the back—oh, it's understandable if you didn't notice that given the steamy front cover image by Glen Orbik. Well, I note that Egypt isn't Morocco, and this action's set post-WWII, but damned if they weren't right!
Dateline: Cairo, the dog days of summer in 1952, on the run-up to what we now know as the 23 July Revolution. If you're well-off or well-connected, there are pale, tiled rooms with gloved servants and cool beverages, places where international opportunists, trying not to sweatstain their gabardines, hide from the day's heat as they pantomime civilization. Outside the well-guarded hotels that cater to corrupt officials and smugglers, beggars swarm and impoverished natives foment revolution against a dissolute king.
After his rise-and-fall in oil wildcatting, then five years in the Army, where he boxed middleweight, Peter Wells finds himself in the capital city, thirty-one and stony broke. His most recent paid work was on a freighter that landed him at the docks of Cairo, resulting finally in a visit the U.S. Consulate:
“The last thing I remember was going into a dive a few blocks from here, about five o'clock yesterday afternoon. French place called Le Couteau Rouge. Next thing I knew, I woke up about an hour ago in a house with some woman I never saw before, Arab woman, asking me for money. Well, I couldn't remember a thing, but I was sure I paid in advance, knowing those places, so I got out fast. Then I found out too late I'd been rolled.”
Mr Case's Puritan face was set in a mask of bleak disgust....“Difficult,” said Mr. Case vaguely. “The Consulate doesn't like this sort of thing.”
“Neither do I.”