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4.3 out of 5 stars26
4.3 out of 5 stars
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I'd not read any of the Yashim novels before but I had no problem picking up any references to past events.

This book is set in nineteenth century Turkey at the end of the Ottoman Empire when the country is decaying and losing its way. This pervades the whole book - the descriptions of the sights and sounds of the city and the portrayal of the characters. Also in the city are revolutionaries from Eastern Europe, an Irish priest, a Russian princess, an Ottoman dowager and a Polish diplomat. The story concentrates on the characters and their possible involvement in a murder which is investigated by Yashin who has an official role with the rump court which has been left in Istanbul.

It is wise not to concentrate too much on the intricacies of the plot as it doesn't stand up to much scrutiny but if you dwell on the characterisations and enjoy the atmosphere which the author conjours up from small details then you will find this very enjoyable - although a little slow. In amongst the decaying court and refugees in the city are details of delight often revolving around food. The corruption and poverty of the city and the court does not disguise moments of kindness. The ending is not predictable but partly sad and partly lifeaffirming.

An interesting setting which is well portrayed with some excellent characterisation and descriptive writing. I am not sure that I particularly want to read many others in the series but i did enjoy this one. Thanks to the publishers for a free copy made available via NetGalley.
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on 15 June 2014
The writing was excellent, and the author's descriptions of Ottoman Istanbul were quite wonderful. Having lived in Istanbul for 10 years, I could recognise the streets and buildings described, and I especially liked the emphasis on Yashim's cooking skills. The recipes are probably familiar to anyone who's tried Turkish food, and made my mouth water.

Having not read any of the previous books in this series, I was a little disappointed to find quite a few references to events outside this story.The main character was very likeable, but I found the story dragged a little, although I must confess I would probably read the previous books as the writing was so good (if not the story).

Reviewed in exchange for a preview Kindle copy.
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on 5 July 2014
I could not stop myself turning the pages - often late for work or wishing I could get home early. Delightfully written, tense and a ripping yarn the Baklava Club features Yashim the Enuch detective in the Harem of 19th Century Istanbul and the Valide - mother of the Sultan - and Pawelski the ambassador to a long defunct Polish Empire. I particularly liked the look touch feel and smells evoked by the book - the day shooting duck in the Bosporus using ancient punt guns; the description of the archives of the patriarch of Constantinople; the cooking recipes; the walk in the mountains and the exquisite relationships described. Well worth getting.
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on 14 June 2014
The best novels transport you to another world. And from the first in the series, The Janissary Tree, I loved the way Jason Goodwin's Yashim mysteries evoke the city of Istanbul - the changes in the Ottoman empire, the claustrophobic harem contrasting with the modernising forces in Turkey, the intricate details of the food, the very tiles of the streets and buildings brought to life.

And this latest is no different, capturing the sense of a moment in history where the old world and the new are struggling alongside. All, of course, with the usual fantastically plotted crimes and beautifully drawn characters. There's extra depth to Yashim and Palewski here, as their personal loyalties and friendship are caught up in conspiracy and power struggles that could shape the course of Europe's future - all alongside a group of idealistic but naive revolutionaries, the Baklava Club of the title.

The kind of story which has you reading late into the night as it builds to its thrilling climax, I found myself turning pages so fast, eager to discover the truth, that I almost had to re-read the final section to untangle it all. As satisfyingly complex as any of the earlier books.
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on 20 June 2014
Still has the magic of Yashim, but perhaps a little more convoluted than previous books. I urge Goodwin to stay with the character and not kill it off.
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on 8 July 2014
Love this series! Read it on holiday in Turkey - perfect. Historically interesting, great characterisation and very enjoyable.
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on 2 May 2016
Loved the first four or so books of this series, and the very clear erudition of this author on this period of Ottoman history. Sadly, they have progressively declined and this is the worst. Narrative very confusing, plot not very gripping; the whole novel seems to have been written in a rush
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on 10 August 2015
I imagine this won't be everyone's cup of tea, possibly not even Yashim the Eunuch followers. For me, the atmosphere of exiles inspired by genuine political/social contemporary circumstances, infused with history of the Ottoman empire, as well as references to the history which forms the backdrop to this series, particularly the fortunes of the Janissaries, were its strengths but admittedly I read non fiction for fun as well. On the negative side, the storyline with Natasha felt a bit Mills & Boon like and Yashim seems a little less chivalrous, perhaps less unselfconscious, but the new characters were very well rendered with familiar ones well deployed and the finale/twist unpredictable. I haven't given up wanting to immerse myself in nineteenth century Istanbul with Yashim yet!
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on 5 August 2015
disappointing; too violent, too mean, not cosy, comfortable or charming...was there a looming deadline? has the author tired of his creation? i will probably not buy the next one, if there is one...too bad
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on 26 June 2015
Jason Goodwin as ever evokes Istanbul and the Ottoman empire completely. A few surprises in store for anyone reading this novel with a thrilling denouement.
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