Friday, March 02, 2012

The Great Female Detective Mystery

In crime fiction as in real life, it is the detective who is supposed to solve the mystery. However, life is full of mysteries and in this one, the detective is the mystery. Some time ago, the BBC published a story and photographs by Pascale Harter, of one Myriam Marzak, who was touted as being Morocco's first and only female private detective. The View from Fez wrote a charming article about Myriam at the time. Now we discover that Ms Marzak is very hard to find.

A short while after our story in 2011,  we received a request from a private investigator in the UK who wanted to get in touch with Ms Marzak as he had a case for her to work on. He had no contact details for her, so he asked us to investigate. At the same time another British PI, living in France also set out to find Myriam "Je suis un détective privé enquêteur britannique enregistrée en France. Quelqu'un peut-il aider please. Je suis espérant trouver un détective privé enquêteur au Maroc pour former une association professionnelle."

This week, the search continued as we were approached by a very talented documentary filmmaker is interested in making Myriam the subject of a documentary - if only he could find her.

A search of the phone book proved fruitless, as did an trawl through the darker sides of the Internet. However, we did discover that others have been looking for the mysterious Marzak since 2007.The View from Fez Investigative Unit donned their Fedora's, slipped on the Raybans and took to the mean streets of Casablanca in search of the mysterious Myriam. What we discovered is a tangled web of theories.

Myriam is a master (oops) mistress of disguises

Theory One - Myriam has gone into deep cover.

"Without flattering myself, I was made for this job, because I like the depth of the work. The longer I stay on a job, the more interested I get. I’ve got the patience for it. Sometimes there’s no time to eat, no time to take a break or go home when you’re tired. I am eaten up by my work. I find every case interesting and become obsessed." - Myriam Marzak
Casablanca's Corniche
Our sources say that it is very likely Myriam has assumed one of her many identities in order to infiltrate a powerful mafia outfit that operates the black-market sardine trade from fishing boats that land on the Corniche late at night. There are reports of a mysterious woman "on a bicycle" being spotted at 1am outside a well-known fish restaurant. And, as Myriam herself told the BBC "When I’m tracking someone, for example, I sometimes need to change transport, so I’ll need to ensure I have a bicycle waiting if I can’t go by car". Her old case files reveal that she was aware of the toughness of such an assignment. "The hardest criminals I’ve tracked are the Italian Mafia, because they are so alert and so untrusting," she once said.

We asked the Agence de détectives privés au Maroc on Rue Jean Jaurès in the Quartier Gautier about this theory, but they declined to comment.

Myriam was meticulous at keeping her files in order

Theory Two - Myriam has been silenced by a rival.

A more sinister theory came to light when we rang Africa's other female detective agency. A Botswana woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe, acknowledged that she had heard of Ms Marzak, "Yes, I have heard of Myriam, but I have to remind you that as a traditional woman I believe that there is only room for one female detective agency in Africa and that is mine."

So, has Precious Ramotswe been involved in getting rid of a rival? We contacted Sandy McCall Smith, who has been commissioned by Mma Precious to write her biography and history of her No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. He spoke to The View from Fez from the agency in the Kgale Hill Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Gaborone. "If Mma Ramotswe is involved, anything could happen." He then hung up. When we phoned back, a very efficient yet high-strung secretary, Grace Makutsi, said she had never seen a Moroccan detective in her life and that Sandy McCall Smith had simply dropped in to play croquet and added, obliquely, "Any talk of a relationship between us is a load of Impala doo-doo".

One of the last faded photographs we have of Myriam working

Theory Three - Myriam has returned to France.

According to publicly available evidence, Myriam studied at a detective college in France. Some rumours persist that she has returned there to take on a teaching role. Her undercover experience would certainly be valuable for others to learn from.

"Disguise is a big part of my work. I’ve worked undercover a lot.   I lived and slept in the Paris Metro for three months on a job. I can’t tell you all the disguises I wear, but believe me, I can go unnoticed anywhere from a mosque to a brothel. I could follow you for a whole day and you wouldn’t know it. Recently I followed someone for two months, every day".

Theory Four - Myriam has changed careers.

The last theory we came across was sparked by a woman near the Casa Voyageurs train station handing us a piece of paper with the inscription; "she is working as a gellasa in a hammam." A "gellasa" is a female superintendent or manager and a hammam is a traditional bathhouse. If this is the case, we suspect that Myriam may be involved in her most dangerous under-cover assignment - searching out the hidden secret women's business in a hammam.

But is it true? Has she changed jobs, or is this another deep-cover operation? Our research is ongoing.

In the interests of enlightenment, and to assist all those who want to employ her or make documentaries about her, we need your help. Please send us any clues, photographs or even faint rumours.

NOTE: We do not believe the theory that she was a fiction created by a late night sub-editor on a slow news evening.



Anonymous said...

Great story and very funny. Thank you for making me laugh a lot.

Penny said...

I think it was a bored night-editor! :)

Anonymous said...

The sardine smugglers of the Corniche! I can't wait to see the movie! *SMILE*