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Somer, Mehmet Murat - The Prophet Murders (translated by Kenneth Dakan)
Paperback: 224 pages (May 2008) Publisher: Serpent's Tail ISBN: 1846686334

THE PROPHET MURDERS is the first of the six 'Hop-Ciki-Yaya' thrillers to be translated into English from the original Turkish. They feature an unnamed narrator* who is possibly the world's first transvestite detective, who is by day a computer consultant and by night a night club co-owner in Istanbul.

(*A little internet research reveals our narrator is called Burcak though the name's not revealed until book five.)

Burcak is sad to read about the death of a transvestite in the newspaper and knows that the police will do little to investigate. Because the community is a close one he soon gets to hear of other deaths. Then he realises that the original male names of the girls being killed are all names of the prophets and that the deaths are being carried out in symbolic and related ways to the death of the original prophet.

A school friend who now works for the police is able to help and provides case files on the deaths and assistance also comes from an unexpected source, the ranting chatroom visitor Jihad2000 who is an especially good hacker. Burcak has a good idea who the killer is and sets a trap, but things don't go to plan and leads to a very tense and painful showdown.

THE PROPHET MURDERS is set in a very different world to anything I've read before. It's less of a whodunit ,as the guilty party is quickly identified, and more of a thriller. The first person present tense narration is brisk and there's little descriptive padding. The main character is fairly likeable and in the main does the decent thing to protect the community. The strongest aspect of the book is the portrayal of the transvestite community and its members, several of whom are also fleshed out. Indeed I was very worried about the survival prospects of one of them. I also enjoyed the cultural references about actors, films, music and musicians, both Turkish and non-Turkish, that litter the book.

The characters and the plot of THE PROPHET MURDERS are larger than life and are well served by the translation from Kenneth Dakan. I await THE KISS MURDER with interest.

Karen Meek, England
May 2008

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 22/11/2009 15:02