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An Evil Eye: A Novel (Investigator Yashim) Paperback – February 28, 2012

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Product Details

  • Series: Investigator Yashim (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781250002433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002433
  • ASIN: 1250002435
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Edgar-winner Goodwin's masterful fourth mystery thriller set in Istanbul under the Ottoman Turks (after The Bellini Card) finds his series hero, the eunuch Yashim, attempting to navigate treacherous political shoals following the death of Sultan Mahmut II in 1840. International pressures heighten the uncertainty surrounding the empire's direction under Mahmut's youthful successor. In this tense climate, Yashim looks into the killing of an unknown man dumped in a Christian monastery's cistern. A flap of skin cut from the body bearing a death's-head brand, an item that someone tries to take from Yashim at gunpoint, may point to a Russian connection to the murder. While Goodwin excels at plotting, the book's main strength lies in the assured depiction of a nation restrained by a corrupt leadership far removed from the old traditions of transparency and justice. The details of how Yashim prepares meals may amuse Robert Parker fans. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“When you read a historical mystery by Jason Goodwin, you take a magic-carpet ride to the most exotic place on earth.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Goodwin is an author of many strengths…[and his books] just keep getting better….The complicated plot that unfolds is deftly controlled throughout….Goodwin’s prose is sharp and surprising.” —The Washington Post

“Exotic…An elegant meditation on the Ottoman psyche. Goodwin is as concerned with capturing the sights, sounds, and recipes as he is with the murders.” —Financial Times (London)

“Goodwin continues to create historical mysteries with an A-quality plot, excellent historical detail, and a strong sense of place….He is still at the top of his game.” —Booklist

“A great addition to a superb series.” —The Globe and Mail (London)

“In Yashim’s investigations the stakes are high indeed….The bare outlines are enlivened by Goodwin’s skillful use of color and detail, especially Yashim’s recipes, which set the reader drooling. As a historian, Goodwin is scrupulous.” —The Independent (London)

More About the Author

Jason Goodwin is a best selling novelist, traveller and historian. His first book was all about tea, and his second described a 2000 mile walk from Gdansk, on the Baltic, to Istanbul, on the eastern Mediterranean. That turned into an obsession with the ancient capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. He thinks that the best way to learn about a subject is to write about it, so he wrote Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, described by Jan Morris as 'a high-octane work of art'. Time Out called it 'perhaps the most readable history ever written on anything' and the New York Times Book Review generously chose it as their cover story - with the result that it sold 50,000 copies in hardback in the first week.
His Istanbul-based series of historical thrillers began with The Janissary Tree, winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Novel. His novels have been translated into over 40 languages; the latest is The Baklava Club.
Jason lives in England with his family and a dog called Bridie.

Customer Reviews

If you are a fan of history - especially about the Ottomans - read this.
RHJ Ruiters
Jason Goodwin's wry-humor and fast pacing manage to keep the plot engaging even as the story whimsically shifts around to different characters.
Jason Bean
I tried to speed read through the second half of the book, but it was so dull I didn't even bother trying to know whodunnit.
Miran Ali

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Lindy on April 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can give this book only 3 stars, and then only because we are treated to Goodwin's usual, dandy looks into how things worked (this time, inside the harem) during the late Ottoman Empire. Without that, however, I would rate this newest Yashim tale as only fair - certainly not close to the quality of either "The Janissary Tree" or "The Snake Stone."

There is a slap-dash, first draft feel to this book. Back in "The Olden Days," when publishers could afford to hire and empower top notch editors, Mr. Goodwin would surely have been told that he has too many characters here, way too many plot lines (some of which are never fully or cogently developed), far too many truly implausible coincidences, and an incredible amount of just plain bad writing, especially toward the end of the book. Mr. Goodwin's "Explain All This Complexity To The Dear Reader In Phony Dialogue In The Last Twenty Pages" went out of style after very early, ham-handed Agatha Christie novels. Some parts of this book are so bad, they could have been written by an adolescent for a high school Creative Writing class. By the time the reader gets to the end, in fact, his or her willingness to suspend disbelief has been exhausted, and he or she no longer cares what happened or why Mr. Goodwin wants us to think so.

I suspect that both Mr. Goodwin and his publishers may have pushed hard to rush this book into print. That's a shame, because the death of Sultan Mahmut and the coming to power of the young Abdulmecid should have offered Mr. Goodwin enough material for at least two books - one about what took place inside the harems when there was a change of sultan, and another about what went on politically and socially, mostly among men, as a new reign began.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gentle Reader on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Just finished Evil Eye. Three stars for atmospherics but no way up to Janissary Tree or Snake Stone (or Bellini Card which I enjoyed but wanted more of Yashim and less of Venice). In fact about 70 pages into Evil Eye, I got annoyed and abandoned the book. Picked it up later and finished it. It did get somewhat more focused but still had too many extraneous characters, unsupported suspense and slapdash writing - all surprising and disappointing from Goodwin. And again, this one needed more of Yashim. Pretty diagnostic that Palewsky has been the best-drawn character in the last two books. Bring back Yashim; I want to know more about him and see more of him in action. I hope Goodwin will try again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason Bean on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Jason Goodwin's Turkish detective Yashim books since 'The Janissary Tree' came out in 2007 but I have to admit I was a bit thrown off by 'An Evil Eye' at first. The pacing is faster, the side-characters are numerous and the plot has more last-minute twists than an Agatha Christie mystery. In any other hands this would be a bit of a mess but Goodwin manages to not only bring it all together, he creates one of the most engaging Yashim stories to date!

With the exception of the last book 'The Bellini Card' the Yashim stories have always started with a leisurely introduction of mid-1800's Istanbul and perhaps a slice-of-life moment with Yashim buying a book or having a meal with his friend, the Polish Ambassador Palewski. Taking place the year before the events of 'The Bellini Card', 'An Evil Eye' starts off with a bang (or BOOM of cannon fire) with Yashim rushing to help clear the late Sultan's harem as the new Sultan's women arrive. He's then immediately thrown onto a murder investigation by the grand vizier involving a body found near a christian monastery and a flap of human skin with a strange marking. If that wasn't enough Yashim's investigations lead him on the trail of Fevzi Ahmet, the Kapudan pasha on the island of Chalki....and the person who trained Yashim to be a detective!

Obviously there's a lot going on in 'The Evil Eye', as Palewski says: "Yashim, you seem to have prevented a sectarian riot, identified a corpse and thrown suspicion on the Russians, all the while I was drinking my pear syrup. Incredible." Jason Goodwin's wry-humor and fast pacing manage to keep the plot engaging even as the story whimsically shifts around to different characters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wabi Savvy on April 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've loved this series, set in 19th century Istanbul, since the first one appeared (The Janissary Tree). Above all, it is author Jason Goodwin's thoroughly convincing evocation of place and period that draws me into these stories. He has also created a memorable and intriguing protagonist in Yashim Efendi, a eunuch who is attached to the sultan's court as a special investigator.

This time around he weaves in rich details of harem life--to which, of course, Yashim has access---into the intrigues surrounding the defection of the Ottoman Empire's fleet commander to the Egyptians, who along with the Russians are threatening to further weaken the political sway of the Ottomans.

It may be that the many strands in the story do not quite come together in a perfect braid, but each strand holds enough interest to keep you turning pages. There are also hints of Yashim's past that pique one's interest and promises even more fascinating glimpses into the empire's history.

By the way, it helps to have read Goodwin's "Lord of the Horizons" to fully enjoy the stories.
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