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!
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.