The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer

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The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer

Category: Crime
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Melony Sanders
Reviewed by Melony Sanders
Summary: The main character, a Turkish transvestite detective, is a wonderful lead, but unfortunately, the story itself is basic and dull.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 272 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
ISBN: 978-1846686948

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After a break-up, our unnamed hero (or heroine) has been wallowing in depression and self-pity for too long, so his friend, Ponpon, drags him out for an evening on the town in Istanbul. While out, he meets Haluk Pekerdem to whom he is immediately attracted, but unfortunately Pekerdem happens to be married. However, this meeting involves our hero in a new murder case, when Pekerdem's brother-in-law is accused of the murder of a gigolo. Our hero suspects that the brother-in-law is not guilty... but can he prove it? And if he is right, then who is the real killer?

I always appreciate a new fictional detective, but it is difficult to make them stand out from the rest - they usually end up being alcoholics who have a problem with women. In this case, the author has pulled out all the stops to ensure that his character is different. Our unnamed hero is a transvestite who appears to be happiest in women's clothes, but sometimes goes for a more masculine look - whatever, he pays a great deal of attention to how he looks. He is a kind person, interested in justice, and a computer whizz, and likes nothing better than to poke his nose in other people's business! As a fictional detective, he is certainly one that will stay in my mind and I will almost certainly try another in the series. It did annoy me that he wasn't named though - it makes it seem as if the fact that he is a transvestite is more important than his own identity.

Nearly every character in the book is larger than life. Our hero's best friend, Ponpon, also a transvestite, loves to do anything that keeps her in the limelight. He also has a computer geek friend, Kemal, who is wheelchair-bound, but doesn't let that stand in the way of his sexual fetishes. Even the dead gigolo has an interesting background (as well as an enormous penis, in case you're interested!). The colourfulness of the characters definitely makes for interesting reading, and although, being Turkish, they had unusual names for me to cope with, I was able to quickly get to grips with who was who.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't match the inventiveness of the characters. It is basically deadly dull; even when our hero begins to piece the story together, it still crawls along at a snail pace. A large part of it is linked to technology and hacking, which I must admit is not my strong point, but even when it is clear where that particular thread is taking us, I found it hard to get excited. To be honest, if I hadn't enjoyed the descriptions of the characters, I would have really struggled to read to the end of the book.

I was looking forward to reading about the descriptions of Istanbul - I've always liked Barbara Nadel's novels which are set in Istanbul and go to a great deal of effort to provide the sights and smells of the city. In this case, although the author is Turkish, much of the story could be set just about anywhere. The names are Turkish and there is the odd reference to Allah and different foods, but that is about it. The setting probably shouldn't be important, but as the story was so disappointing, I would have appreciated more description!

I didn't find anything in the book remotely offensive, but if you find references to homosexuality, tranvestites and sex in general, some of it a little perverted, then you should stay well clear of this book. However, nothing is described in any great detail - there are no direct sex scenes at all.

The book was written in Turkish and has been translated into English by Kenneth James Dakan. I had no problems with the translation whatsoever. The only difficulties were with people's names and the odd phrase that was given in Turkish - however, there is a list characters and a glossary at the front of the book, which is really useful.

On the whole, I was disappointed with this book. I really liked the characters and they certainly added a lot of colour to the proceedings, but that wasn't enough to make up for the decidedly lack-lustre plot. I will give the author's books one more try, just because the characters show that he does have some potential, but unless the stories improve, these books won't be a regular part of my collection. Recommended to fans of European crime fiction and/or flamboyant characters only.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you enjoyed this book, or like European crime fiction, then you may like to try Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon, which is set in Venice, or River of the Dead by Barbara Nadel, set in Istanbul.

Buy The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer at Amazon.com.


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