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"The Janissary Tree" by Jason Goodwin

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In "The Janissary Tree" Jason Goodwin gives us an engaging murder mystery set in 1836 Istanbul. In the imperial capital, the sultan faces pressure from shrinking territory and waning influence, and when a young houri in his harem is murdered, he sighs and says, "Summon Yashim." Thus are we introduced to the intrepid and resourceful investigator who must solve not only the mystery of the harem murder, but also the apparent murder of four of the sultan's young officers. Are they related?

We have major international intrigue, treason, stealthy murder, and our hero in and out of hot water. I love when an author puts a mystery in an ancient setting (see Steven Saylor and Ellis Peters for the two best), and I'd hoped to learn about and feel immersed in (late) medieval Istanbul. I got this, but it seemed like "Istanbul Lite." The mystery and intrigue work satisfactorily, but I would have liked a little more basic info and flavor. Mr. Goodwin paces his story pretty well, and hides the identity of whodunit well, too.

If you're in the market for a medium-duty mystery with an exotic setting, give this a try.
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