There has been a series of murders across Istanbul, and the general consensus is that those killed died because of their homosexuality. Then a wealthy man is found stabbed in his hotel room. He seems to have no connection to the other deaths, but someone in the police hierarchy believes that he is a victim of the same killer, much to Inspector Mehmet Suleyman's surprise. What is more, the body has been wiped clean of all forensic evidence.
Another man is found dead near an area populated by some of the city's diplomatic community. He was on the verge of selling a British diplomat a carpet apparently once owned by Lawrence of Arabia. Inspector Suleyman and his colleague, Inspector Ikmen must try to solve the two cases without upsetting either their police superiors or the diplomats involved.
I adore crime fiction that is set in other countries and having heard that Barbara Nadel had written a series of books based in Turkey, I was delighted to get hold of a copy. This particular book is the latest in the series, having been published just this year, and has won the CWA Silver Dagger Award.
Although the series is called the Inspector Ikmen series, Inspector Suleyman plays an equal part in this book. He is a detective with many years experience and is upset that, for the purposes of the cases in this book, he has to rely on a colleague from the secret service and cannot apprise his other colleagues of what he is doing. He is a vain man, yet is nevertheless immensely likeable.
Ikmen sees himself as being working class, unlike Suleyman, who is related to royalty, and is much more down to earth and laid-back. In many ways, I found him a more sympathetic character than Suleyman. However, the camaraderie between the two is easy to see and I found both characters immensely likeable.
The plot was quite confusing, mainly because there are two different cases, but also because of the foreign names, which I struggled to remember. However, it kept my attention throughout - I read the book in a day because I couldn't wait to find out what happened. I did have to re-read the end though before I was sure I understood why the guilty parties had acted in the way that they did!
As for the location of te book, I have never been to Istanbul, but I felt that Barbara Nadel really brpught out the hubub, colour and poverty of the city well. As far as I know, she has never lived in Istanbul, so I don't know why she chose it as a location, but she certainly makes it seem authentic. She clearly did a lot of research on Turkish carpets and carpet making, which comes through very strongly in the book - her descriptions of the designs on the carpets are excellent.
The style of writing is fairly straightforward and I doubt that she would win any literary prizes for it, but it suits the book well and she certainly managed to make the characters and locations vivid nonetheless.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the original setting, and the plot, although confusing at times, is strong. I will certainly be looking out for more books in this series and I think that anyone with an interest in crime fiction or just a good read will enjoy it. Recommended.
The book is available from play.com for £5.99. Published by Headline Publishing Group, it has 352 pages. ISBN: 9780755321346.
A killer with means but no motive, and the body count is rising! A serial killer is stalking the streets of Istanbul. A man is found dead in a hotel room, a single stab wound in his heart. Could he be a victim of the 'Peeper', a murderer whose target up until now has been gay men? The body of the man is delivered to forensics, but it is entirely clean. Has someone tampered with it? Inspector Mehmet Suleyman finds himself under increasing pressure from his contact at the Turkish Secret Service to keep his findings to himself...Meanwhile a young carpet dealer, on the brink of a huge sale, is found dead in the mangled remains of his Jeep. The deal would have made him -- the carpet he wanted to sell used to belong to Lawrence of Arabia. Inspector Cetin Ikmen finds out that just as the carpet's rich history is stained by bloodshed, so the young man hides a sinister and deadly secret!