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The Prophet Murders: A HOP-CIKI-YAYA Thriller Paperback – 8 May 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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£7.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (8 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846686334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846686337
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Long-time consumers of crime fiction are usually searching for something new -- there's nothing worse than realising that you have started to read something which is merely a re-warming of earlier themes and ideas. Such readers will be pleased by the appearance of The Prophet Murders, an outrageously entertaining novel by Mehmet Murat Somer.

The book is set in Istanbul, where the glories of the Ottoman Empire have long vanished. One of the quirkier attractions of the modern city are the transvestite clubs, which offer a wide variety of diversions (some of them very physical). When a series of corpses begins to appear (some recently killed, others murdered years before), the world of the clubs is very disturbed -- particularly as the methods of dispatch are often extremely unpleasant. The narrator of the novel, the club-owner Burcak, is a transvestite, routinely described as ‘she’ by those who know her (even though Burcak is male, with no surgical alterations); Burcak has been dealing with personal threats based on her irreligious behaviour, but now it's beginning to look imperative that she track down a particularly nasty killer.

As well as being a crime novel of a particularly outrageous character (rather like the author, in fact), we have the added value here of being taken into the transvestite gay subculture of Istanbul, which will be something of a new experience for most crime readers. And Mehmet Murat Somer is the perfect tour guide to this unusual world (where the iconoclastic secular world rubs shoulders with an unbending, religious ethos); Somer’s skill as a writer has enabled him to create a particularly unusual protagonist. The author has said that he may be straying into pastures new with future books, but in the meantime this entertaining outing is more than enough to be going on with. --Barry Forshaw

Review

M M Somer's novels are hysterically funny and get better each time. (Time Out - Istanbul)

This is what we need our Europe to be: sexy, clever and dressed in better clothes than your average Prime Minister's wife. Turkey can only move on from here (Stella Duffy)

They are as refreshing as cookies and cold lemonade on a summer day. I wish there was a Turkish Almodovar to film all these novels one day. (Perihan Magden, author of 2 Girls)

Watch out, here comes the transvestite killer thriller. An absolutely shocking comedy. (Peter Tatchell)

Somer has captured the essence of Istanbul with a tour round its haunts, its sights, its people and its nightlife all in the search for the elusive killer whose murder rate is accelerating... a highly recommended read. (Aesthetica)

A twilight world of online and real-world extremism that's murkier than the lighting in any transvestite nightclub. A delightful confection (Time Out)

A camp comedic thriller... amusing high-adrenalin romp (The Times)

Istanbul's Miss Marple - although he prefers leather catsuits to tweed skirts (Daily Telegraph)

[A] stylish pulp thriller... The Prophet Murders gives the crime genre a naughty, original facelift (Tina Jackson Metro 2008-07-17)

Surprising and entertaining... this eye-opener of a crime novel is not to be missed (Joan Smith Sunday Times 2008-07-20)

Superior mysteries (Maureen Freely Guardian)

A whip-smart Istanbul crime series (Guardian)

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I grabbed a cup of coffee and the morning paper and settled into my chair by the window. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is something really new. It's centred on a transvestite nightclub in Istanbul, and told at a brisk pace by our hero, the club manager, who's one of the fairest of them all. Girls from the club are being murdered in sinister circumstances, and so far as he's concerned, this is no time to stand idly by and listen in on the gossip. He's spurred into action, and we follow his progress, step by step, as he criss-crosses the city, sometimes as a man, sometimes in full drag, and then moves south for a sexy, dangerous, and very dark denouement. Not a detective by profession, his day job as a computer specialist is research training enough, and he's driven by his determination to safeguard the girls from whoever is bumping off one by one any and every girl who was named at birth after one of the holy prophets.

There are brief encounters, good friendships, and some truly disturbing moments along the way, but his resolve doesn't ever falter, and nor does the sprightly intelligent tone with which he relates his adventures, more or less as they happen. Through gay scenes and everyday scenes, he's not going to be daunted, and takes it all in his stride - tenderness, exploitation, silliness and horror are all reported while they occur to this bold, good-humoured and unnamed queen. The pace varies, dwelling for a while on a drag performer whose ambition is to be the perfect housewife, then on a techie nerd who wants to be a masochist ... but the tone is unhesitating, always open and ready to cope, whether the events and encounters are sweet or grim, seductive or ugly.

This is the first of six such thrillers by Mehmet Murat Somer, and it's a lively translation, with not a moment's lapse into boredom.
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Format: Paperback
There's a recommendation from the author Val McDermid on the cover which describes this book as a "cappuccino", frothy on top but dark and bitter underneath. And that's exactly right: as witty as the writing is it is also insightful and defiant.

The window the story provides into the transvestite community in Turkey is fascinating. But what i found most interesting was the recurring theme of duality, the tension and potential of living on a boundary. The narrator lives as both man and woman. Turkey is shown to be both European and Asian, secular and Muslim, traditional and ultra-modern (the internet and hacking play an important part in the story).

Something else that interested me was the almost total absence of biological women in the story (apart from the odd cleaner or mother) and the defensive attitude displayed by the narrator and other transvestite characters towards them. And also the minimisation of family in the narrative. Transvestite society is shown as though it were almost entirely self-contained. The author, in his long and entertaining acknowledgments section comes across very differently - as a (presumably gay) man deeply bonded to his family including many women.

Finally, there is the fact that the story, rather than being primarily a whodunnit, is actually more concerned with how easy it is for the person whodunnit to get away with it when the victims are society outsiders. I suspect some people will be disappointed with this lack of mystery, but not me. The tension is in the danger that our transvestite heroine risks as she struggles to bring the killer to justice - just because in doing so she is stepping outside the space Turkish society permits her: physically - night clubs; socially - sex work, entertainment.

But this makes it sound as if the book is earnest and worthy. It isn't - it's sharp and funny. I found it unputdownable. Can't wait till the rest of the series are translated.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is for the Kindle version, where the printing/editing was so poor that it completely detracted from the book. Punctuation and word order was, at times, all over the place but the worst thing was the way the Turkish characters had been pasted into the text, at about double the size of the other characters. This might be acceptable in a free book, but not one which was full price. I'd be interested to see whether it's the same in the print version.

The book itself was ok, an exciting setting but fairly ropey plotting. The second half was quite exciting, the first half dragged a bit and was slow going.
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