What do you do when a man dies suddenly- and it turns out he has human flesh in his stomach? This is the problem that Inspector Cetin Ikmen has to deal with; not only does he have the unexpected death of one of Istanbul’s liberal elite, but also the fact that he has a murder victim who has been eaten. How do you go about investigating this scenario? The answer is- with difficulty.
The story takes in Turkey’s current problems: the clash between religious and secular; the closeness of its borders to Syria and ISIS; the disaffection of Turkish youths and confusion of refugees. Inspector Ikmen must navigate all of this if he is to crack his case.
I’ve never been to Turkey and I don’t know much about it, but I enjoyed the sense of place and national identity that Nadel manages to create (I even went away and learnt about zenne– male bellydancers who have become popular in recent years.) It can’t have been easy to do such a diverse place justice.
My main thought about this book is how much I liked Cetin Ikmen. In his slightly grumpy, hard-drinking way, I imagined him to be the Turkish cousin of my favourite detective, John Rebus. They have much in common, I think.