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Belshazzar's Daughter (Cetin Ikmen) Hardcover – February 21, 2004

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British author Nadel's deep passion for Turkish culture and her intimate knowledge of that land come through vividly in this riveting crime drama set in present-day Istanbul, but with roots in two of the last century's epic bloodbaths. Police Inspector Aetin Ikmen, alcoholic, chain-smoking, but somehow endearing, looks into the brutal murder and disfigurement of an aged Jewish immigrant that appears to have neo-Nazi implications. With his youthful colleague Mehmet Suleyman in tow, Ikmen leads us through the back alleys, brothels and barrooms of the city's roughest neighborhoods in an absorbing investigation that involves suspects of many nationalities and mental states, each suffering from a different form of madness or obsession. Midway through their complicated inquiry, Ikmen declares that the case is like reconstructing "a shattered mirror" whose pieces have flown off in many different directions. With rapid scene shifts and a constantly changing cast of characters, that mirror is gradually pieced back together to provide a glimpse of the gory end of the tsarist regime in Russia nearly a century ago, and the ongoing terrors of those who survived the carnage only to relive it in their minds. Stunning final twists in this disturbing tale suggest that history's cycles of violence and evil will continue unabated. FYI: This is the author's first book to be published in the U.S.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Istanbul police inspector Cetin Ikmen, never without his brandy and cigarettes, has his hands full when an old man turns up dead in Balat, the rundown Jewish quarter of the city. With his handsome partner, Suleyman; medical examiner Dr. Sarkissian; and skirt-chasing officer Cohen offering assistance, Ikmen begins investigating the puzzling crime. He discovers a strange group of expatriate suspects: a bored, lovesick Englishman teaching at a language school; an old German textile manufacturer with Nazi sympathies; and an odd Russian family stuck in the prerevolutionary past. As the team slowly unravels the complex chain of events that led to the victim's demise, Ikmen's wife gives birth to their ninth child, and Suleyman tries to find the courage to keep his mother from arranging an unwanted marriage. Nadel's first novel is a real treat. The city of Istanbul provides a rich background for an engaging plot and a cast of remarkably well developed, colorful characters. Add Inspector Ikmen and his motley crew to the growing list of outstanding fictional cops plying their trades across all parts of Europe and Asia, which have become hotbeds of police procedural excellence. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Cetin Ikmen (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (February 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312316534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312316532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By saliero on June 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nadel has written an excellent police procedural, and introduced an engaging cast of regular characters in this first Inspector Ikmen book.
More than that, she writes evocatively of Istanbul - its physical nature and social life, and the diverse people who make it their home - from 500 years of Jewish descent seeking asylum to latter day English language teachers looking for refuge in their own way.
I have lived in Istanbul myself amongst the foreign teacher expat community, and Nadel has captured this aspect perfectly. Some of the people fleeing their personal demons. She writes most sympathetically of those who have sought safe harbour from systemic persecution.
Nadel has successfully managed to weave an engaging modern-day crime novel together with a strong sense of place and with a fascinating historical background. Along the way, we learn to care about the characters who populate the series, most especially Ikmen's family.
I thoroughly recommend this book - all the elements have been 'got right' - plot, characterisation and location for a thoroughly diverting read.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Nadel's novel, "Belshazzar's Daughter," has an intriguing premise. Cetin Ikmen, a chain-smoking and hard-drinking detective on the Istanbul police force, is investigating the murder and mutilation of an elderly Jewish man named Leonid Meyer. Someone used acid to torture Meyer and then painted a swastika on a wall near the corpse. Is this heinous act the work of a right-wing anti-Semite or is there a less obvious motive?
Nadel, who according to the book jacket has visited Turkey frequently, makes good use of her exotic locale to lend a touch of originality to what is essentially an ordinary whodunit. Ikmen and his partner Suleyman interview everyone who knew Meyer, and they look into the victim's past to see if it might shed light on who hated him enough to kill him so brutally. The colorful cast of characters includes the unlucky Robert Cornelius, a depressed British expatriate with a checkered past, a beautiful temptress named Natalia, and Natalia's grandmother, Maria Gulcu, a strange woman who knows a great deal more about Meyer's death than she's willing to reveal. There is also Reinhold Smits, a known Nazi sympathizer who once employed Meyer and then summarily dismissed him. Which of these suspects holds the key to the mystery?
As the story unfolds, it becomes more and more convoluted and less credible, and the ending of "Belshazzar's Daughter" is way over the top. I liked the characters and the setting, but the plot was not well-developed and convincing enough to make this novel work for me.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on June 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Nadel's Ispector Ikmen mysteries set in Istanbul have been compared favorably to Donna Leon's Venice-set mysteries, but the Nadel series may actually be even superior given her superb use of characterization. Her first work in the series, BELSHAZZAR'S DAUGHTER, shows already her gifts at creating a good mystery and fine characters, but she takes everything a bit too far over the top--not only does the solution to the central crime (the murder of a Russian Jewish expatriate by buldgeoning and pouring acid down his throat, with a swastika painted on the nearby wall in his blood) tie directly to one of the most notorious historical crimes in early twentieth-century Europe, but Nadel also has to throw in Ikmen's cross-dressing precognitive cousin who scries the novel's overdramatic conclusion in a bowl of oil--it's just too much. But the great characters of the series are all already here, including Ikmen's handsome and mother-dominated colleague Suleiman, his perpetually pregnant wife Fatma, his pushy father, and the chainsmoking, brandy-swilling Ikmen himself, a superbly drawn detective figure. There are better Ikmen novels to come, but this is a very solid start to the series.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
British expatriate Robert Cornelius works in Istanbul's Londra Language School. He just completes his lessons to eight students when he notices his Turkish lover Natalia moving at an incredible pace in the run down Jewish Quarter. Apparently an anti-Semitic crime occurred in Balat as someone murdered but not before abusing elderly Leonid Meyer, a Jew who escaped from Russia during the 1918 Revolution. At the bloody crime scene is a swastika drawn in the victim's blood. Robert wonders how Natalia is tied to this vicious homicide.
Also involved in more official capacities are Turkish police officers: chain-smoking veteran Inspector Cetin Ikmen and the relatively rookie Sergeant Suleyman. They begin investing the heinous crime while they struggle with the demands of their respective families. Soon they find a link to Robert and Natalia as the former's grandmother was the victim's lover at one time and the latter was convicted of assaulting a Jewish lawyer in his hometown of London. Is the murder a case of vengeful passion as the two cops begin to believe or is it a more sinister attack on the Jewish population?
BELSHAZZAR'S DAUGHTER is an insightful laid-back Turkish police procedural. Cozy fans (in spite of the brutality of the killing) and those who delight in foreign who-done-its will be grateful for this fine novel. However, anyone who likes plenty of non-stop action needs to pass as Barbara Nadel furbishes a deep look at family life in Istanbul as much or more than who killed the elderly Jew.
Harriet Klausner
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