It takes a writer of prodigious talents to conjure the Istanbul of the Ottoman Empire in all its
majesty. In three previous novels, Jason Goodwin has taken us on stylish, suspenseful, and vibrant excursions into its exotic territory. Now, in An Evil Eye, the mystery of Istanbul runs deeper than ever before.
It's 1839, and the admiral of the Ottoman fleet has defected to the Egyptians. It's up to the intrepid Investigator Yashim to uncover the man's motives. Of course, Fevzi Ahmet is no stranger to Yashim—it was Fevzi who taught the investigator his craft years ago. He's the only man whom Yashim has ever truly feared: ruthless, cruel, and unswervingly loyal to the sultan. So what could have led Yashim's former mentor to betray the Ottoman Empire?
Yashim's search draws him into the sultan's seraglio, a well-appointed world with an undercurrent of fear, ambition, and deep-seated superstition. When the women of the sultan's orchestra begin inexplicably to grow ill and die, Yashim discovers that the admiral's defection may be rooted somewhere in the torturous strictures of the sultan's harem.
No one knows more about the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul than Jason Goodwin, of whom Janet
Maslin wrote in The New York Times: "Mr. Goodwin uses rich historical detail to elevate the books in this series . . . far above the realm of everyday sleuthing."
Jason Goodwin's first Yashim mystery, The Janissary Tree, brought home the Edgar® Award for Best Novel. His follow-up, The Snake Stone, more than lived up to expectations and was hailed by Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times Book Review as "a magic carpet ride to the most exotic place on earth." Now, in The Bellini Card, Jason Goodwin takes us back into his "intelligent, gorgeous and evocative" (The Independent on Sunday) world, as dazzling as a hall of mirrors and utterly compelling.
Istanbul, 1840: the new sultan, Abdülmecid, has heard a rumor that Bellini's vanished masterpiece, a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror, may have resurfaced in Venice. Yashim, our eunuch detective, is promptly asked to investigate, but -- aware that the sultan's advisers are against any extravagant repurchase of the painting -- decides to deploy his disempowered Polish ambassador friend, Palewski, to visit Venice in his stead. Palewski arrives in disguise in down-and-out Venice, where a killer is at large as dealers, faded aristocrats, and other unknown factions seek to uncover the whereabouts of the missing Bellini.
But is it the Bellini itself that endangers all, or something associated with its original loss? And why is it that all the killer's victims are somehow tied to the alluring Contessa d'Aspi d'Istria? Will the Austrians unmask Palewski, or will the killer find him first? Only Yashim can uncover the truth behind the manifold mysteries.
It is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the Sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim Lastname, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world. You see, Yashim is a eunuch.
He leads us into the palace's luxurious seraglios and Istanbul's teeming streets, and leans on the wisdom of a dyspeptic Polish ambassador, a transsexual dancer, and a Creole-born queen mother. And he introduces us to the Janissaries. For 400 years, they were the empire's elite soldiers, but they grew too powerful, and ten years ago, the Sultan had them crushed. Are the Janissaries staging a brutal comeback?
When a French archaeologist arrives in 1830s Istanbul determined to track down a lost Byzantine treasure, the local Greek communities are uncertain how to react; the man seems dangerously well informed. Yashim Togalu, who so brilliantly solved the mysterious murders in The Janissary Tree, is once again enlisted to investigate. But when the archaeologist's mutilated body is discovered outside the French embassy, it turns out there is only one suspect: Yashim himself.
The New York Times celebrated The Janissary Tree as "the perfect escapist mystery," and The Daily Telegraph called it "[A] tremendous first novel . . . Beautifully written, perfectly judged, humane, witty and captivating."
With The Snake Stone, Jason Goodwin delights us with another transporting romp through the back streets of nineteenth-century Istanbul. Yashim finds himself racing against time once again, to uncover the startling truth behind a shadowy society dedicated to the revival of the Byzantine Empire, encountering along the way such vibrant characters as Lord Byron's doctor and the sultan's West Indies–born mother, the Valide. Armed only with a unique sixteenth-century book, the dashing eunuch leads us into a world where the stakes are high, betrayal is death—and the pleasure to the reader is immense.