May 9, 2013

Book Review: Baksheesh by Esmahan Aykol


Baksheesh (the second in a series that began with Hotel Bosphorus) is a quick-paced look at life in modern Istanbul. The convoluted mystery Esmahan Aykol sets up is intimately linked to deep corruption within the Turkish political system. Kati Hirschel, owner of the only mystery bookstore in Istanbul, needs to move. Her landlady is upping the rent, so Kati finds a government employee willing to accept a little baksheesh in return for putting her at the top of the waiting list for a new apartment. She's offered a place, only to find squatters already there. She argues violently with one of the men; when he turns up dead a few days later, Kati becomes the main suspect.

Kati's already busy dealing with a fight with her boyfriend, fears that she's starting menopause and is irritated that everyone in Turkey keeps telling her how well she speaks Turkish. In order to clear her name, though, she decides she needs to investigate this murder on her own--clearly the Turkish police are no match for her brisk German efficiency.

Kati is a comical heroine whose many quirks (chain-smoking, picking quarrels, worrying about her cellulite) make her very relatable. The language is sometimes stilted--which may be a result of translation, or perhaps reflective of Kati's abrupt style. Either way, Esmahan Aykol has brought Istanbul's chaotic, colorful world to life and has created an engaging detective as its tour guide.

I saw an Amazon review that compared Kati to Stephanie Plum from the Janet Evanovich books. I haven't read those, so I'm not sure if that's an accurate comparison, but hey, if you like Janet Evanovich you may want to give this one a try.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Maybe?

Have you read Esmahan Aykol or Janet Evanovich?

I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness. The post contains affiliate links.