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The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch, Bk 1)
The Janissary Tree - Yashim the Eunuch, Bk 1 Author:Jason Goodwin It is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the Sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim Togalu, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world.... more » You see, Yashim is a eunuch.
He leads us into the palace’s luxurious seraglios and Istanbul's teeming streets, and leans on the wisdom of a dyspeptic Polish ambassador, a transsexual dancer, and a Creole-born queen mother. And he introduces us to the Janissaries. For 400 years, they were the empire's elite soldiers, but they grew too powerful, and ten years ago, the Sultan had them crushed. Are the Janissaries staging a brutal comeback?
The Janissary Tree is the first in a series featuring the most enchanting detective since Precious Ramotswe of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Splendidly paced and illuminating, it belongs beside Caleb Carr's The Alienist and the historical thrillers of Arturo Perez-Reverte.« less
First in a new historical mystery series featuring Yashim, a eunuch living in Istanbul in the 1830's. The Janissaries were an elite band of soldiers who let power go to their heads and eventually became more like the mafia than anything else--they provided public safety to those who could pay for it--but they also provided the public menace. The Janissaries were attacked and disbanded by the Sultan in 1826, but a series of murders of the current city guard and mysterious poems left on the Janissary Tree (the tree where they used to hang their criminals when they were in power) leads Yashim the investigator to believe that they may be attempting to make a comeback. While working on that case for the seraskier, the head of the current city guards/soldiers, the sultan's mother has also asked him to look into the murder of a young girl in the harem; she was a virgin, ready to bed the Sultan and was killed in her bed before the deed could take place. Also missing are the sultan's mother's jewels, a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte, and she wants them back! Yashim scurries hither and yon trying to investigate all the crimes on his plate and like many good sleuths, ends up tired, sore and short on sleep.
Excellent book that lands you in the heart of the times and the culture. And oh my...the man can cook, too! Make sure you don't read on an empty stomach, as the descriptions of Yashim's meal preparations are enough to make your mouth water! Definitely will be following this series...this first one is as rich as a good cup of Turkish coffee!
Beth D. (DCMom) reviewed The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
This book is for readers who enjoy a rich historical backdrop in their novels. At the waning sunset of the Ottoman empire, a brilliant investigator is tasked with finding out who is killing members of the Sultan's military guard but discovers a much bigger conspiracy at work. The novel has a fascinating series of depictions of life in 19th century Istanbul which make it a very engaging and worthwhile read. Scheming eunuchs, insiders in the Sultan's harem, the mysterious military force called the Janissaries, and members of the dark side of Istanbul nightlife populate the book and drive the story.
Horrible. I don't know how it won the Edgar Alan Poe award for mystery. Difficult to read and follow. The only reason I finished it was because it was for book club and I suggested it just from the awards it received.