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The Bellini Card (Investigator Yashim) (Inspector Yashim Mysteries) Paperback – Bargain Price, March 2, 2010

44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Near the start of Edgar-winner Goodwin's fine third historical to feature the eunuch Yashim, who serves the Ottoman rulers of early 19th-century Turkey (after 2008's The Snake Stone), Yashim's close friend Stanislaw Palewski, the Polish ambassador to the Turkish sultan, accepts an undercover assignment on the sultan's behalf. Posing as an American, the diplomat travels to Venice in an effort to locate a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror (who reclaimed Constantinople from the Christians in 1453), painted by the legendary artist Gentile Bellini. Fortunately for Palewski, Yashim, who has a secret plan for the painting's recovery, intervenes in time to set the mission on the right track after the murder of two art dealers. While Yashim initially plays a backstage role, the eunuch and a shadowy power broker engage in an exciting and complex duel of wits in the book's final quarter. Once again, Goodwin skillfully blends deduction, action sequences and period color. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Intrigue, treachery, and murder infuse early-nineteenth-century European society, and only one savvy eunuch, Inspector Yashim of Istanbul, can navigate the serpentine political connections and hidden agendas, as evidenced in The Janissary Tree (2006) and The Snake Stone (2007). Now, with the death of the old sultan, the pashas are jockeying for power. When the new sultan, young Abdulmecid, orders Yashim to Venice to retrieve the lost portrait of Mahmut the Conqueror, the sly vizier Resid tries to nix the plan. Yashim secretly sends his friend Palewski instead, who royally bungles the assignment. Reluctantly, Yashim comes to the rescue and nimbly skirts certain death in the canal, bests the violent but lovely Contessa d’Aspi d’Istria, sets the local constabulary to rights, and discovers the truth about Mahmut, his portrait, and its secrets. Yashim’s adventure in Venice is a toothsome, wryly humorous, and historically accurate view of La Serenissima, seen through the eyes of a very unusual man: a Turkish eunuch as adept with a sword as a kitchen knife and who bemoans the loss of his beloved old friend, Sultan Mahmut II. Goodwin vividly evokes Istanbul embroiled in change, like Jenny White’s The Sultan’s Seal (2005) and Katie Hickman’s The Aviary Gate (2008), and he delivers a visceral experience of historical Venice similar to David Hewson’s Lucifer’s Shadow (2004). --Jen Baker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Yashim Mysteries (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312429355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312429355
  • ASIN: B004KAB5MS
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,382,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In 1840, the new Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdulmecid orders the eunuch Yashim to travel to Venice to obtain a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror painted by Bellini. However, before leaving for Italy, Resid Pasha directs Yashim to keep the expenses including the purchase down. Yashim asks his friend impoverish Polish Ambassador Stanislaw Palewski to masquerade as an American to help locate the portrait of the hero who took Constantinople from the Christians in the fifteenth century.

In Venice while Palewski conducts his search, a killer has murdered two dealers connected to the Bellini masterpiece. Soon the Polish Ambassador becomes a target of this unknown murderer, but Yashim working from the shadows keeps his friend safe while trying to obtain the painting.

The third Yashmin historical thriller (see THE JANISSARY TREE and THE SNAKE STONE) is an enjoyable fascinating look at Venice and at the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly Yashim plays second fiddle for much of the early part of the novel, but once he comes on stage, he and his adversary battle in am electrifying contest. Fans will enjoy this terrific nineteenth century mystery due in part to the investigations into the portrait and the killer, but also because of the deep sense of time and place.

Harriet Klausner
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By RDG on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book very much. The historical details and local color were great, both for Istanbul and for Venice. But the plot was just baffling. So many characters (some of whom turn out to be one another, no less!), so many hidden motives and agendas, all of which would be fine if the author ever stopped, somewhere near the end, to explain what exactly had happened. But he never does! Worse, he gives hints along the way that things are not as they seem (of the "afterwards, it was this moment he would remember, when it became clear he was being cheated..." variety) but never quite resolves what the hint was about. Various people are killed (by one killer? more than one?), various deceptions are staged (to what end, exactly? it's not clear) and various revelations are revealed, but I honestly couldn't keep track of who was who or why any of it mattered.

In the interview with the author at the back of the book, Goodwin says he doesn't plot out his books in advance, but just starts to write and hopes he wraps up all his loose ends by the end of the story. It shows.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Both Yahsim the eunuch and Palewski the Polish ambassador to the Sublime Porte (aka the court of the Ottoman Empire) have problems. Yahsim has been commanded by the new young Sultan to track down and retrieve the portrait of his ancestor, Mehmet, who first conquered Constantinople in 1453. It's a problematic and potentially risky assignment for many reasons, and Yahsim is strongly advised not to venture abroad. But Count Palewski, on the other hand, is feeling more disrespected than usual by the diplomatic community -- his invitation to the festivities for the Sultan's ascension haven't arrived. But then, Poland, divided up between Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany and other nations, doesn't really exist as a country.

Yahsim commissions Palewski to go to Venice in his place, disguised as an American art collector, and thus begins a remarkable and mysterious adventure for the Polish exile, who thus far in Goodwin's three-book series has played second fiddle to Yahsim in their investigations. Pawlewski duels, literally and rhetorically, with his Venetian neighbor, a beautiful noblewoman, displays his chivalrous streak and risks both his life and freedom in the pursuit of the Bellini. Others involved peripherally in his quest do lose their lives in the murky canals of a Venice long past its prime (and still occupied by the Austrians). But just in the nick of time, Yahsim arrives on the scene to resolve the mystery...

As usual, Goodwin's novel is packed full of all the color of the locales in which he sets the stories. Yahsim, an avid cook, introduces us by proxy to the delights of Ottoman-era cuisine, even as he mourns the destruction of ancient tiles and savors the beauties of Arabic calligraphy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Wood on July 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jason Goodwin's entertaining third installment of his unique Investigator Yashim series takes our Turkish eunuch detective from Istanbul to Venice (after The Janissary Tree: A Novel and The Snake Stone: A Novel). The young new sultan Abdulmecid receives a whispered invitation from Venice to purchase Gentile Bellini's 15th century portrait of Mehmut the Conqueror. A new sultan means a new vizier and this one intends to be the power behind the throne. When Abdulmecid dispatches Yashim to Venice to find the seller and bring back the painting, Resid Pasha intimates that Yashim should forgo the trip; the weakening Ottoman Empire cannot afford to waste precious coin on old paintings.

Yashim seeks to please both masters and craftily sends his friend Palweski, the nominal Polish ambassador to the Ottomans to find, acquire, and retrieve the painting (`Nominal' because Poland was enduring one of its periodic disappearing phases). Venice turns out to be every bit as Byzantine as Istanbul. Who, if anyone, really has the painting? Is it for sale? Is it even genuine? Why are dead men turning up around Palewski? The Austrian stadtmeister especially wants that question answered. And around that point, Yashim turns up to lend a hand.

The answers are all delivered in due course along with some solid action, loads of intrigue, a beautiful woman, and a satisfying conclusion. Despite the occasional violence, Goodwin's novels are comfortable. Yashim makes the reader feel that `all is right in the end' - or much as possible in the declining Ottoman Empire.
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