Top critical review
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Complex but not intriguing
on 5 June 2009
I picked up this novel because I love historical fiction and liked the idea of reading about Istanbul in the early nineteenth century.
Unfortunately, Jason Goodwin seems to think that the point in a mystery is to baffle the reader. Towards the end of the book, I had no idea what was going on - for such a short book there were too many side-steps and too much extraneous material.
The characters are pretty flat and Goodwin goes for quantity rather than quality. We follow Yashim around Istanbul but don't really engage with the location. There are a lot of descriptions but these are usually done as if the reader is already familiar with 1830s Istanbul and Turkish culture.
In all in all, this book was becoming a chore to read and I skimmed the last twenty pages, just trying to work out "who did it".