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The Janissary Tree (A 'Yashim the Eunuch' Mystery) [Paperback]

Jason Goodwin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook, Unabridged 13.06  

Book Description

1 Jun 2006 A 'Yashim the Eunuch' Mystery
Yashim is no ordinary detective. It's not that he's particularly brave. Or that he cooks so well, or reads French novels. Not even that his best friend is the Ambassador from Poland, whose country has vanished from the map. Yashim is a eunuch. As the Sultan plans a series of radical reforms to his empire, a concubine is strangled in the palace harem. And a young cadet is found butchered in the streets of Istanbul. Delving deep into the city's crooked alleyways, and deeper still into its tumultuous past, Yashim discovers that some people will go to any lengths to preserve the traditions of the Ottoman Empire. Brilliantly evoking Istanbul in the 1830s, "The Janissary Tree" is a fast-paced literary thriller with a spectacular cast, from mystic orders and lissom archivists to soup-makers and a seductive ambassador's wife. Darker than any of these is the mysterious figure who controls the Sultan's harem.


Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Export ed edition (1 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571229220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571229222
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,845,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jason Goodwin writes the best-selling Yashim detective series set in 1830s Istanbul. The fifth in the series, The Baklava Club, is out in June.
'When you read a historical mystery by Jason Goodwin,' writes Marylin Stasio in The New York Times Book Review, 'you take a magic carpet ride to the most exotic place on earth.'
The Janissary Tree won the EdgarAllen Poe Award for Best Novel in 2007, and the series has appeared in over 40 languages. 
He's written award-winning books of travel and history, including Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. Time Out called it 'perhaps the most readable history ever written on anything.'

Jason's love-affair with Turkey was kindled in 1990 when he and Kate, his partner, walked 2000 miles across eastern Europe, from Gdansk to Istanbul. The award-winning 'On Foot to the Golden Horn' tells the story of that journey in a year of change, and it's available on Kindle.

Also on Kindle, The Gunpowder Gardens: Travels through India and China in Search of Tea tells the story of Jason's journey across the world of tea, its trade and history.

He lives in Dorset, on the south coast of England, with Kate and their four children.

Product Description

Review

The richly detailed evocation of the period, which gives The
Janissary Tree such an authentic feel, is combined with a playful humour
and a hero unconventional enough to rival Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin. -- The Times, June 2 2007

This congenial murder mystery, blending historical scholarship and
deft characterisation, is upmarket crime fiction with a smile on its face. -- Sunday Telegraph, June 3 2007

Book Description

A rich, atmospheric and exciting historical thriller set in nineteenth-century Istanbul. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Isaiah 56:3

Investigator Yashim, the hero of Jason Goodwin's first novel, "The Janissary Tree" may be a Turkish eunuch but it is not at all likely that anyone reading this book will think of him as a "dry tree". In fact, if Yashim's steamy encounter with the beautiful but lonely wife of the Russian ambassador to Turkey halfway through the book is any indication, this is one heck of a unique eunuch.

I would love to have been present when Goodwin pitched the idea of a novel (and the first in a proposed series) about a crime-solving eunuch in Istanbul to his agent or publisher. Fortunately, someone had the good sense to green light this project as Goodwin has crafted a highly-entertaining book.

The Janissary Tree is set in Istanbul in 1836. Ten years earlier the Janissaries, the Sultan's version of the Roman Empire's Praetorian Guards, had been crushed by the "New Guard", the Sultan's standing army. Like the Praetorian Guards the Janissaries had evolved from a protective legion to one that terrorized the populace and the Sultan. Now, ten years later, the mysterious disappearance of four members of the New Guard and the murder of one of the Sultan's harem heralds the possible return of the Janissaries. The return of the Janissaries threatens to destroy the Sultanate and the relative calm of Istanbul. Enter Investigator Yashim. He is given ten days to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Yashim is soon engulfed in murder and intrigue. Bodies begin to appear in bizarre places as Yashim and his friends (including a somewhat decadent Polish Ambassador who has no country to represent and a transsexual dancer) try to get to the bottom of this alleged revolt.

Goodwin is very good at keeping the plot boiling (in more ways than one).
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant intrigue - fantastic backdrop 27 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
I loved Jason Goodwin's The Janissary Tree because it is a genuine, classical detective story, but set in an extraordinarily well-researched and depicted 1830s Istanbul. The backdrop - both physical and historical - is crucial to the intrigue, playing a full part in the action. The characters - especially Yashim the eunuch and the Polish ambassador - are sympathetic. The final pages contain two beautifully revealed twists.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turkish Delight 29 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Let me start by saying this is a jolly good read - and a great book to take on holiday to a Turkish beach, especially if you are off on a trip to Istanbul as part of your visit.

I read it within three days of starting it - I was quickly dragged into the story and the pace builds up to a nice `want to know' ending.

If you are 'into' the Historical detective story, this is almost as good as it gets. Plenty of historically accurate detail - the sort of `everyday detail' needed to spice up the story - food, clothing, buildings.

And the essential characters are there: The not quite accepted by anyone `detective'; the manipulative bad-guy; an exotic beautiful temptress; and a tart-with-a-heart with a difference (one of my favourite characters I have to say).

What this is is firmly `escapist' - but with a slightly educational twist - I did get a sense of what Istanbul must have been like, and a sense of the origins of the modern Turkish dilemma between secularism and tradition. If at times the writing felt too worthy, it only lasted a short time and we were soon back chasing fire-raisers through the seedy streets.

This is not Orhan Pamuk - but it isn't meant to be.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best novel I have read in years 29 July 2006
Format:Hardcover
A gripping and hilarious romp through 19th Century Istanbul. Delicately crafted and exciting yarn, steeped in historical fact, beautiful descriptions of cooking that make you hungry; tasteful and amusing situations pile one on top of the other as delicately the plot builds up to a crashing crescendo. An excellent novel in the best tradition of English literature; full of interesting facts and delightful situations. I have bought five copies to give to my children's teachers!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally good read 18 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book after reading its brilliant review by Natasha Cooper in the Times. How right she was. Jason Goodwin's writing is nothing short of superb - a fabulous plot in the midst of descriptions of 1830s Istanbul which evoke this city to such a degree that you have to pinch yourself to rememeber that you're not actually there. The book's hero Yashim, is the best of investigators, clever and kind, but troubled, and his friend the Polish ambassador is a treasure. I read the book in one take. I look forward to reading it again and hope, too, to see a sequel out soon. Read this book, it's writing at its best.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly beguiling 15 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
It is a worry when your brother gives you his first novel. What do you say if it isn't up to scratch? My brother would be the first to spot any feigned enthuisiasm. Luckily, and I am being as impartial as a sister can, The Janissary Tree is a treat. It is exactly the sort of book I long to take on holiday - beautifully written, full of effortless knowledge about Istanbul in the 1830's and genuinely gripping. There is one particular facet of Yashim the eunuch hero's amatory adventures that surprised me, suffice to say that Yashim is quite capable of giving a girl a really good time. If if you liked The Incident of the Finger Post or any of the Boris Akunin novels you will love this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed the book
This is the first book I have read by this author, was pleasantly surprised, enjoyed the book, good holiday read, will look out for more books in this series
Published 3 days ago by Xandy
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy Eunuch Spy
Entertaining yarn about Yashim, a rather sexy eunuch in the Ottoman Empire of the early 19th century. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Josa Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Tantalising
Plenty of clues, if you can spot them! Well researched convincing detail. However occasionally the use of modern slang to suggest a lower class of personnel is irksome.
Published 1 month ago by Mary Maulden
4.0 out of 5 stars A mystery set in an interesting place
An intriguing book, which introduced me to a different way of life and living . I shall probably read more of Jason Goodwin's books.
Published 3 months ago by Vivien barber
5.0 out of 5 stars More, please
What a wonderful discovery this author is. Jason Goodwin is a born storyteller who has the ability to transport the reader on a magic carpet ride, in this case, to 19th century... Read more
Published 11 months ago by PJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip to 1830s Istanbul
Jason Goodwin does two key things in this book. Firstly, he transports you completely to 1830s Istanbul with a variety of scene and precision of detail that you might expect from a... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Richard Buxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Real history, with syle and substance
This book's structure suits its magnificent, 1836 Istanbul, substance: "an endless circuit, snake swallowing snake. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Milo di Thernan
4.0 out of 5 stars A cut above
For me the perfect combination. Original detective hero and a perfect setting. Although I am unable to time travel, Istanbul is a place that now I have inhabited in print I know... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Adam Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Good story, excellent depiction of the Istanbul of the period, quite well written and generally a good read. I will definitely buy more of this series.
Published 19 months ago by Sidney M Perera
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical detective novel
Really enjoyed this one. Interesting twist to have a eunuch as the main character - learnt a lot about passion (or not!), longing & acceptance of one's lot. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Big D
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