Friday, 16 April 2010

Review:- Jason GOODWIN – “The Janissary Tree”

Year Published: - 2006
Where the book was from:- My own copy
ISBN: - 1 84632 791 1
Pages: - 504pp large print
Genre: - Crime, Ottoman Empire,
Location:- Istanbul 1836
How I came across it: - Pensby Lib book sale
Rating: - ***** ****
One sentence summary:- Yashim the Eunuch is given two task at the same time – trace the murders of four of the Sultan’s new guard and find out who strangled one of the Sultan’s ‘daughters of felicity’ within the harem.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:-
Istanbul has had ten years to recover from the ‘Auspicious Event’ which is how the Sultan titled the removal of the Janissary – guards / soldiers who had got too big for their boots. But has it? Or are there still rumblings under the surface as Mahmut II is about to issue a major Edict. Yashim the eunuch is chosen by the head of the Imperial Ottoman army to investigate the disappearance of four of his officers but Yashim is distracted by a request from the Sultan’s mother to find her missing jewels and trace the killer of a girl in the harem.

General comments:-
As always i enjoy learning about times past and places far away. The atmosphere of nineteenth century Istanbul is captivating and the underlying humour of the book doesn’t hide a cleverly crafted plot. The New York Times described it as ‘The perfect escapist mystery’.

There are now three Yashim the Eunuch novels:-
1. The Janissary Tree (2006)
2. The Snake Stone (2007)
3. The Bellini Card (2008)


Already his story, somewhat improved from its first rendition, was being retailed with appropriate embellishments among latecomers to the scene, and within the hour several versions of events were circling through the city. By lunchtime these stories were so finely rounded that two of them were able to actually pass each other without the slightest friction...

AUTHOR Notes:- Jason GOODWIN studied Byzantine history at Cambridge and has written several books on cultural history and travel. He lives in Sussex and is married with four children. He speaks German and French and once walked from Istanbul to Poland.

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