While searching for a new author to read two years ago, I chanced upon Barbara Nadel. Her series featuring Inspector Ikmen and Mehmut Suleyman is set in Istanbul. While this is not a place I’d particularly be interested in visiting, Ms. Nadel’s telling of murder investigations set in this city is fascinating.
I have jumped back and forth in the Ikmen series, depending on what was available to me. Having received my Kindle credit for the book publisher’s price-fixing problems, I purchased her latest – Body Count.
I have said before that I don’t enjoy books with too much blood and gore. The Ikmen series is an exception. True, there is a lot of gore from time to time, but it is handled so well and woven into the plot in a manner which doesn’t have me dropping the book and screaming. High praise.
Body Count builds on the relationships between Ikmen, Suleyman and Ikmen’s sergeant Ayse. There is a serial killer on the loose in Istanbul and there aren’t any significant connections that direct the police for a spell. Once the threads of connection come together, the denouement is swift and startling.
Ms. Nadel has developed her characters over many novels. Ikmen is a short, ugly, scruffy and continuously smoking man with a disdain for the religious and second-sight he inherited from his mother. He is close to retirement and trying to figure out how he will live once it happens.
Suleyman is a womanizer. Born to an old royal family in Turkey, his looks and raw sex appeal give credence to his constant need for female companionship. In the first few novels, he was a sympathetic creature. In this last, even Ms. Nadel is tiring of his libido, which he cannot keep in check. He has fallen from being merely handsome and sexually attractive to being slightly depraved.
Ayse Farsakoglu has appeared in most of the novels. Originally a constable, she has had an on and off relationship with Suleyman. Her obsession for him and her inability to get away from it, has colored her life and ruined at least one promising relationship. The tensions between her and Suleyman and their ill-fated affair motivate almost all of her actions.
Throughout the book, up until the murderer was unmasked, I was totally in the dark. I love that. Reading a mystery isn’t much fun if you can solve the mystery by page 100.
With these relationships woven into the fabric of old Istanbul, along with gypsies and the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, this book is a must read.
Luckily for all of us, Ms. Nadel also writes two other serial mysteries, one set in WWII and the other in modern-day London. I have read one of the second series and can definitely recommend it as well-written as the Ikmen series.