Baksheesh (Kati Hirschel Murder Mysteries) by Esmahan Aykol and Ruth Whitehouse (translator)
|Baksheesh (Kati Hirschel Murder Mysteries) by Esmahan Aykol and Ruth Whitehouse (translator)|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Kati Hirschel is back and again the murder is secondary to Kati guiding us through her Turkey and her life. Not that I minded; the view is well worth the journey.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 228||Date: March 2013|
|Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press|
Kati Hirschel, daughter of German parents, still runs the only crime fiction bookshop in Istanbul and, when good's measured against bad, seems to be having a rough time. Good that she's about to buy her first apartment. However, looking at the bad, she's just split up with her lawyer boyfriend (albeit after a very good dinner), is strangled in a car park (though not to death… which is good) and is accused of her strangler's murder occurring, as it did, while she was eating strawberry ice cream. The only way she can exonerate herself is to emulate her fictional heroes once again and do some sleuthing.
Lawyer, journalist and, of course, author, Esmahan Aykol once again uses all her professional knowledge as she brings us this second Kati Hirschel novel which works just as well as a stand-alone as it does a sequel. (The first book being Hotel Bosphorus).
This is effectively a Turkish No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency but with its own local idiosyncrasies as solving the crime plays second fiddle to spending time with the characters. Therefore, as we meander through Kati's world, listening to her boyfriend troubles, her real estate problems and the reasons why someone would want to accuse her of murder, whether we enjoy it or not will depend on what we think of the lady herself. Speaking personally, I rather like her.
It's definitely not an edge of the seat thriller but the lack of cinematic action and thrills are ably replaced with charm and reader empathy. Kati grew on me more as I read on, the empathy emanating from the fact that she too is an outsider. Due to her parentage Kati doesn't consider herself Turkish, therefore explains and grumbles to us about Turkey's customs, idiosyncrasies and politics conspiratorially as, being non-Turkish, we understand her frustrations.
As she ambles through the murder investigation in an almost younger Miss-Marplesque way, one gets the feeling that this female-centric novel may lead to a female bias in readership demographics which would be a shame as it contains plenty to entertain rather than alienate the fellas. Indeed, there are her encounters with the Turkish mafia (Baksheesh is actually the local term for mafia-placating bribes), a former pop star famed for dressing as a mermaid, a gory body or two, fending off the subtle advances of the police investigating officer, getting huffy (amusingly) with her boyfriend and general rants about flats and problem parking we come to realise this is a woman who fears nothing except the menopause. (Don't be scared, Chaps, 'menopause' isn't a word she dwells on.)
For Esmahan and translator Ruth Whitehouse present us with someone who is intelligent, quick to anger and wryly funny. Kati being unable to deal with emotional women and trying to ply them with alcohol rather than a box of tissues provides interesting, (i.e. smirk-out-loud) results. While the episodes around the boyfriends of Pelin, Kati's shop assistant employee, also raise a smile or two.
Some of our heroine's major digressions may try the patience of those who like to keep to the plot but, if you're like me, you're more than happy to go with the flow and see where it leads. Also like me, you'll also be please to know that Katie Hirschel books numbers 3 and 4 have been written and just need translation so it's only a matter of time…
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You can read more book reviews or buy Baksheesh (Kati Hirschel Murder Mysteries) by Esmahan Aykol and Ruth Whitehouse (translator) at Amazon.com.
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