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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 January 2012
This is the 4th in Jason Goodwin's series of stories featuring Yashim the detective eunuch. Set in exotic Istanbul in the 19th century during the slow decline of the Ottoman empire this series is filled with intrigue and atmosphere and the plots aren't bad either.

The series begins with the Janissary Tree The Janissary Tree ('Yashim the Eunuch' Mystery)and it is the best place to start. Here you will be introduced to the characters who feature in each succeeding story and learn the language of the imperial harem and Ottoman Istanbul. Next comes 'The Snake Stone' and the third story is 'The Bellini Card'. The Bellini Card ('Yashim the Eunuch' Mystery) For me it was the least successful of the series, much of the action of the Bellini Card takes place in Venice and I missed the claustrophobic atmosphere created so well in the intrigues of the imperial coterie in Istanbul.

In 'An Evil Eye' we are back on familiar territory in Istanbul and it does not disappoint. The action begins with a body found in the well inside an Orthodox monastery. The local muslim men get the idea that the Greek monks have killed a muslim and are holding his body. A confrontation ensues - enter Yashim to diffuse this delicate situation. He discovers the dead man is not a muslim - but who is he? How did he get into the well? Who put him there and why? Yasim's investigation unravels a web of treachery, blackmail and feud.

Meanwhile the Sultan has just died and as his teenage son takes possession of the new Beziktas Palace, the late Sultan's harem ladies are all expelled from the palace to make room for young Sultan's collection of ladies. There is uproar and confusion. Many of the 'old' ladies are relocated to the old Topkapi palace which is presided over by the valide' mother of the late Sultan. Meanwhile the late Sultan's sister rules the roost in Beziktas. Two palaces each with scheming and division and death.

As the story builds to a climax all of these story lines are brought together with an act of national betrayal which threatens the peace of Istanbul - Russia and Egypt loom as threats. But no fear! Yashim sorts it all out. An exciting, entertaining story, in a dream location with the added benefit of a few of Yashim's tasty recipes judiciously scattered to flavour the tale. I am glad to see that a 5th book is planned.

PS: I think it would be useful to have a very brief 'Glossary' at the end of the book.
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VINE VOICEon 20 July 2017
It’s the fourth book in Jason Goodwin’s most interesting, suspenseful, and enlighteningYashim the Eunuch seriew—and in “Evil Eye” neither the author or our hero disappoints us.

Goodwin makes history come alive as he sets his scene (and murder most foul plots) in Istanbul during the mid-19th century. This series is full of political intrigue, social development, cultural differences, superstitions, and just an excellent “whodunit”—with the Ottoman Empire as a principle character!

Alas, in addition to a murdered body or two (of course, interrelated), the admiral of the Ottoman fleet has set about to defect and sails his fleet into Alexandria, Egypt. What’s the sultan to do? For one, he calls in Yashmin and what, at first seems a simple case of murder (albeit political) we find that the tentacles reach far and wee. The admiral, it so happens, has a long history with Yashim and there are no loyal (or kind) feelings between the two—their differences go back years. He is a cruel, scheming, nefarious “bad guy,” who, it appears, will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, political or personal. He is also a man that Yashmin knows well and knows he’s someone to fear.

And while the plot is developing (and more bodies are found), we meet more assorted characters, including the queen mother, his Polish ambassador friend, and a number of local citizens in this incredible melting pot of universal citizenry, reflecting the centuries of multi-culturalism that the city has witnessed. We also learn more of the secrets and everyday life of the sultan’s harem,and we are introduced to a great deal of Turkish cuisine. Yashmin, in addition to being the sultan’s chief investigator, is also an accomplished chef.

Before long, of course, Yashmin unravels the deep secret the admiral has and is able to solve yet another set of problems for the sultan. Goodwin’s series is one of the more fascinating stories this reader has read. He is able to balance a strong storyline with a venerable portrayal of the time and place of his settings.
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VINE VOICEon 20 August 2014
I have enjoyed all Jason Goodwin's book featuring the great Turkish 'detective' Yashim. He is a very intriguing and interesting character as are his friends and acquaintances. I like the bits where he cooks his special meals, Goodwin takes you through it all so you basically have the recipe. You can almost taste the food.
A body is found down a well at a monastery. But, as with all Yashim's stories there are many threads to wind up and some of an entirely different hue. The goings on at the palace also provides a sinister backdrop. With defections, spies, and crimes from years back rearing their heads this story will keep involved. Very enjoyable.
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on 16 March 2012
This is the 4th novel in Jason Goodwin's very entertaining series about the investigations of Yashim, a eunuch in the service of the Ottoman state. The fact that he is a eunuch is important in that he is allowed access to the harem and the world of women, as well as that of men.

The sprawling plot of this novel - drawing together the body of a murdered man dragged from a monastery well, the changes of the harem arising from a new sultan, and a threat of betrayal to the Ottoman state - can be confusing and rendered moreso by the array of characters over multiple locations. But the journey through the labyrintine plot brings with it huge pleasures, including asides on the history of the Ottoman empire, the machinations of the harem, evocative descriptions of the city of Istanbul, and good cooking: Yashim takes his cooking seriously and frequently unpicks plot difficulties while chopping his vegetables.

So an enjoyable, evocative read, that illuminates, most entertainingly, an unfamiliar time and place.
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on 26 October 2012
I enjoyed the first two books in this series - skipped the third as it's set in Venice, not old Constantinople. The first two are more straightforward detective stories, although complex and fascinating nonetheless. This one felt like it had a broader sweep, more mystery and intrigue rather than concentrating on the almost incidental murder that sets the whole thing off. It has a great historical sweep, wonderful descriptions of the city, the customs and intrigues of the harem and Ottoman government, and characters that you care about and are interested in. Highly recommended.

Shame about the tacky cover pic - even advertising a kindle edition it's off-putting. Needs something more atmospheric and classy for an atmospheric, classy read!
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on 10 June 2012
Really enjoyed this book - as I have all of the Yashim books since I discovered them 18 months or so back.

This one contains the usual ingredients of a sprawling, complex plot, the flavors, sights and smells of mid 19th Century Istanbul and as usual a huge cast of characters who all have their own secrets to hide and fear what Yashim may uncover.

This time its not only Yashim's life that may be under threat but also his life in the outer city ....
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on 4 April 2013
Jason Goodwin's eunuch detective Yashim with privileged access to the Harem in Istanbul is once more is called upon to investigate a corpse discovered on a Greek Island. Full of atmosphere set in the 1840's, interesting and highly entertaining. Yashim is a sensitive man of principles who also loves to cook for himself and his friends. Jason Goodwin's knowledge of Istanbul and the customs and practices of the era lends an atmosphere to the whole magnificent story.
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on 11 February 2015
I would not want to add more to comments by earlier reviewers. But the whodunit element, common to all detective stories would not be the main reason for reading this book.
The book's pleasure is to go with Yashmin through Constantinople's streets and alleys. Readers can bury themselves in another world populated by characters ranging from the villainous, the eccentric, the mediocre and the honourable. We are passengers in boats across the Bosphorus, shiver in the Turkish winter, inhale the charcoal under the kebabs and savour the spices, especially when Yashmin is the chef. The atmospheric narrative is a real pleasure.
I have read all the books in the series up to this one. Though I would rate the first book, The Janissary Tree, as the best, I would recommend Yashmin as pleasing company through meandering plots at the centre of an Ottoman world in slow decline.
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on 3 September 2011
Another dollop of murder, mystery, mayhem and marinading. Yashim the Eunoch not only solves crimes, but at the same time introduces the reader to the sights and sounds of Istanbul whilst whipping up some delicious food. Well paced with good characterisation it makes me want to revisit Topkapi (the harem was closed for work last time I went)and eat some more Imam Bayildi.
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on 26 January 2014
I loved this incredibly interesting story set in the Othoman time. Since reading Jason Goodwin's stories about Yashim, I have started looking for other historical fiction. Very rarely others are as good as this.
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