Monday, May 4, 2020

Review of Arabesk by Barbara Nadel (2000, Headline)

When the wife of one of Istanbul’s most popular Arabesk singers is poisoned and his baby daughter disappears, newly promoted Inspector Suleyman is put in charge of the case. The obvious suspect is the singer’s much older mistress, Tansu, an aging star prone to temper tantrums, though the presence of a neighbour with Downs Syndrome in the apartment is muddying the water. In addition, his mentor, Inspector Cetin Ikmen, although ill and notionally off work, can’t help meddling in the case, and one of his officers seems to have more loyalty to the singer than this boss. The third book in the Ikmen series, is as much about the religious make-up of Turkey as the mystery. Indeed, the mystery element is quite thin given the limited cast and the direction of the story. As such, the interest in the tale is driven by interactions between the characters and the sense of place than the mystery. Which works fine if you’re interested in the culture, politics and social relations of life in Turkey, and the interwoven personal lives of a small murder team, rather than simply wanting a compelling police procedural. And that worked just fine for me.

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