Saturday, December 29, 2012

Arabesk

Arabesk
Author: Barbara Nadel
Felony and Mayhem, 2009
384 pages

Arabesk is the third book in a series set in Istanbul featuring formidable Çetin Ikmen and his capable sidekick, Suleyman. This time, Ikmen is supposed to be on medical leave due to a duodenal ulcer, and Suleyman is leading a murder investigation. The victim is the young wife of a popular Turkish singer of arabesque music, Erol Urfa -- and their baby daughter is missing, too. Thing is, only a handful of people knew that Urfa was a married family man. Publicly, he was the lover of Tansu, a much older and enormously wealthy arabesque entertainer.

Tansu is a narcissistic bitch (well, she is) who seems an obvious suspect, but the fingerprints of a neighbor, Cengiz, have been found inside the Urfa apartment. Cengiz is an adult with Down's syndrome and super-protective parents. Are they covering for him? Oh, but wait! Two well-bred teenage girls confess to the murder and they know the cause of death . . . which hasn't yet been released to the media. So who killed Urfa's wife? (I actually guessed the culprit fairly early on, in less than one hundred pages. But that's OK -- the story and characters were compelling enough to keep me reading.) Where's the baby? And why would anyone want to hurt the beloved Erol Urfa in this way?

Erol and Tansu (as well as Suleyman's subordinate Çoktin, a new character) are Kurds from the eastern part of Turkey. This aspect of the story gives us another glimpse into Turkey's diversity (previous books have highlighted other cultures -- for example, Armenians in The Ottoman Cage). There's also an interesting side story about an elderly Greek woman and a eunuch.

My recent trip to Istanbul has increased my interest in this series. I can now picture the places and neighborhoods described: Sultanahmet, the Galeta Tower, Karakoy, Yenikoy, the Bosphorus . . . I can taste the apple tea  . . . I can hear the call to prayer. I'll keep reading this series!

Previous Inspector Ikmen books I've read:
Book 1 - Belshazzar's Daughter (reviewed May 2011)
Book 2 - The Ottoman Cage (also published as A Chemical Prison -- reviewed May 2012)