Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781472234681INCORRUPTIBLE by Barbara Nadel

The body of a young woman is found in the backstreets of Istanbul.  She’s been brutally murdered and the description of her injuries is horrific, indeed.  Maryam de Mango was well known by many who claimed her to be a messenger from the Virgin Mary after she was miraculously cured of cancer.  But this claim incensed those of other religions, causing a rift amongst Christians of the city.

As Cetin Ikmen and his team investigate Maryam’s background, they find a family divided by hatred, fear and many secrets.  The brutality of her father, Silvio, is measured both by his words and his fists.  At times it is difficult to carry on reading, as he spews his venom with such abhorrent obscenities.  Many will find these passages offensive and at times I felt that they were “over the top”.  Even Ikmen shows his disgust at Silvio’s words and actions.

As the story draws to its conclusion, the landscape around our characters changes dramatically, leaving us wondering where Nadel will take us next.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

29758015THE HOUSE OF FOUR by Barbara Nadel

The old Mansion in Istanbul, known as the Devil’s House, would appear to be living up to its name.  Inspector Ikmen has been called to the scene because a body has been found.  When further examination of the premises finds three more bodies, all murdered in the same manner, Ikmen begins the lengthy investigation into the Hanim family and all of its secrets.  For it’s always the secrets that will eventually lead to the murderer.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Suleyman is investigating a series of apparent random killings throughout Istanbul.  The victims themselves appear to be random, but the perpetrators seem to be the same in each case.  As he investigates, his tumultuous personal life begins to get in the way of the job and he becomes distracted and a little careless.

Nadel’s descriptive style easily makes her readers feel that they are right there – walking the dusty streets of Istanbul, perusing the stalls in the Grand Bazaar – as the heat beats down relentlessly.  It’s armchair travelling at its best and includes a cracking good mystery to boot!

34953093A DANGEROUS CROSSING by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Khan brings the Syrian refugee crisis to the page with this powerful story featuring Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.  Khattak’s childhood friend Nathan Clare asks for his help in locating his sister, Audrey, who has disappeared in Greece.  She’s been working to fast-track Syrian refugees to Canada through an NGO, but has vanished, leaving behind two murdered people.

Esa and Rachel are shocked at the conditions in the refugee camps and fear that Audrey may have been in possession of information that has put her life in danger.  Their search for Nathan’s sister takes them from Greece all the way to the Netherlands, and throughout their journey the question always comes back to them: who can they really trust?

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

ontheboneOn the Bone by Barbara Nadel

Truth, lies and family secrets: against a background of foodies and a chef who exceeds the boundaries of “good taste”, Nadel has crafted a novel that touches so many bases.

Inspector Cetin Ikmen and his colleague Mehmet Suleyman become incidental as the story unravels. We hear little of Ikmen’s family life or Suleyman’s mistress, Gonca. It’s the story of how and why Umit Kavas dropped dead on the street of Beyoglu that needs to be told and why his body showed that he’d indulged in the last taboo.

She shows us the precipitous slope that “not telling” can lead to and its effect on an entire family. The power of the internet, the radicalization of young people, and ISIS in all its horror are graphically examined and should make any parent aware of the dangers to their children, causing them to carefully monitor their computer use.

The novel lacks a lot of the humour present in the other Ikmen stories, but then humour really doesn’t have much of a place in a story of such unsettling themes. It’s one of those novel that will stay with you for a long time while you contemplate the “what ifs” in your own life.

200px-CuckoosCallingCoverThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Cormoran Strike is having a bad day. He has just broken up with his fiancée of 15+ years and is now virtually homeless, resorting to sleeping in his office. His PI business is floundering, and he is up to his eyebrows in debt. His prosthetic leg (the result of his tour in Afghanistan) is giving him grief and the temp agency has sent him another secretary who is surplus to his needs.

And then John Bristow walks through the door. Wealthy, and the brother of Charlie and Lula, both now deceased, Bristow could just be Cormoran’s ticket out of his troubles. Charlie, a school mate of Cormoran’s, died years ago when he rode his bike into a quarry; Lula Landry, the famous model, committed suicide a few months back by jumping out of her apartment window – or so the police concluded. It’s Lula’s death that Bristow wants Cormoran to investigate because he believes it was anything but suicide.

So Cormoran insinuates himself into the world of high fashion, rock stars, and dysfunctional families (the least of which is his very own).

Galbraith (the pseudonym of J. K. Rowling) has created a fresh new character in Cormoran – someone who endears himself to the reader after the first chapter. I enjoyed every page of this novel – the humour, the cleverness of the plot, and the well formed characters. Cormoran is a character I want to read more of!