I had borrowed a couple of Barbara Nadel’s books from the library and enjoyed them, and after it shut its doors again in autumn 2020, buying another of them was a safe bet. Blood Business did not let me down.
Her series of Inspector İkmen novels are set in Istanbul, which I have visited many times. One of my ex-partners is from the city originally, so several of those visits were on her annual pilgrimage back to her roots to catch up with family.
One of her brothers – Doğan – owns the Terrace Guesthouse where I have stayed on my more recent stays. Before the new airport opened its location was ideal, in Sultanahmet right next to places like Topkapı, and a short shuttle or taxi ride from Atatürk Airport.
I have stopped off there on my way to and from Georgia and Kıbrıs/Cyprus in recent years. In normal times, Turkish Airlines had a daily flight from Edinburgh making it an easy trip.
Nadel is British and not Turkish, but according to the book’s mini biography of her, she has spent a lot of time in Turkey. Certainly she captures the soul of the city and the character of its people.
Blood Business is the 22nd novel in the series. Written in 2020 it does touch on current affairs in describing how Turkey has changed since the attempted coup in 2016 and as a consequence of the increasingly populist policies of Erdoğan.
İkmen is “… a chain-smoking and hard-drinking detective on the Istanbul police force…” to quote Wikipedia. The character is well developed, as you would expect after 22 books.
Istanbul’s tourist industry was on its knees before the pandemic, having never recovered from the aftermath of the 2016 problems. The last time I was there in May 2019, many small hotels were shut and the desperation of the carpet salesmen was palpable.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021
Barbara Nadel: a new author for me. I’d certainly enjoy any author who can bring to life that sweaty, traffic-blighted megalopolis with its multilingual hustlers – what you want, was wollen Sie, cosa volete, какво искате, qu’est-ce que vous voulez? – and its fascinating history at the interface of Christianity and Islam. Istanbul: immer eine Reise wert, always worth visiting.