Deadly Web (Inspector Ikmen Mystery 7) Mass Market Paperback – 2 May 2005
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Perfect blend of foreign exoticism and impeccable mystery plotting... Superior police procedural sleuthing in which the locale is etched with precision and the city of Istanbul becomes an indispensable character (Crime Time)
This ingenious novel by Barbara Nadel won the prestigious CWA Dagger in the Library Award in 2007 and was longlisted for the 2007 Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the YearSee all Product description
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The descriptions of Turkish locations and its many ethnic, religious and social divisions are still fascinating, and the main characters all struggle to manage their personal lives and conduct professional investigations. Much more than with earlier books in the series, I found myself struggling to remember individual characters, especially as many are related by marriage [Nadel provides a list of 24 at the beginning of the book as well as a map, whilst end notes offer information about the Turkish Republic, the Kabbalah, a glossary and details about the Turkish alphabet and pronunciation].
The plot was interesting but suffered from a too great a focus on magic and the Kabbalah that adversely affected the balance of the overall investigatory narrative. The story explored young Turkish Goths and their activities, mostly on the fringe of the illegal, but these never really came to life and appeared to be the result of much earnest research. The background to the story are the worries in Turkey of the approaching war to defeat Saddam Hussein and how this will affect the country. This is very well handled.
Íkmen and Inspector Mehmet Süleyman are involved in a series of murders of young people and before long it appears that there is a ritualistic element to the murders. On the personal front, Süleyman’s marriage has collapsed whilst Íkmen’s eldest daughter, Hulya, has just got married amidst much celebration. Her thirty-year old unmarried younger sister, Çiçek, is strongly attracted to Süleyman [as most of the female characters in the book seem to be].
The investigation leads the police to Max Esterhazy, a close friend of Íkmen’s, who is an English teacher and Kabbalist, and to Gonca, a sexually rapacious gypsy artist and fortune-teller who strangely seems to be able to work alongside the police in all stages of their investigation. This, and the storyline surrounding the manifestations of Max’s sorcery, make the latter half of the story distinctly disappointing. Earlier, Nadel is much more assured in describing the problems of Süleyman’s personal life and she captures the barely hidden antagonisms between communities that approach boilng point when their religious buildings are daubed with obscene graffiti and Satanic rituals are uncovered.
Explanations to earlier events in the series are included so this book can be read as a stand-alone; however, it does not represent the author at her best and I would suggest that those unfamiliar with her work begin with earlier books in the series. 7/10.
As I say, I loved the series and love Istanbul, but how this outing won an award bewilders me. Definitely the weakest of the lot - reminds me a little of how Ruth Rendell became gradually unreadable as she got older and crankier and filled every novel with Daily Mailesque vitriol. At some point, as an author, if you don't understand something, you have to accept that might be your fault, rather than write about it like it's mystifyingly incomprehensible to anyone over the age of 25.
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