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Kismet: A Kayankaya Thriller (4) (Melville Mysteries) Paperback – October 5, 2010
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Hard-boiled detective fans should welcome German author Arjouni's U.S. debut, the fourth book in his popular series (Happy Birthday, Turk! etc.) featuring Kemal Kayankaya, a wisecracking Turkish immigrant PI. When a ruthless gang calling itself the Army of Reason demands 6,000 marks a month from a Frankfurt restaurateur acquaintance of Kemal's, Kemal and his sidekick, Slibulsky, wind up in a gun battle that leaves two thugs dead. In 2001, the year this novel was first published, Balkan refugees were streaming into Frankfurt. Kemal must deal with Croatians trying to move in on territory already divided among German, Albanian, and Turkish bosses as well as searching for a wealthy woman's lost dog and protecting an all too worldly 14-year-old Bosnian girl. While Kemal lacks charm, this entry will whet readers' appetite for the three earlier Kayankaya mysteries.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Frankfurt, Germany’s criminal underworld is calm under a triumvirate of German, Turkish, and Albanian bosses. But in attempting to drive off a new gang selling “protection,” Kemal Kayankaya, the Turkish private eye (and German citizen), becomes the linchpin for a lethal battle between brutal, war-hardened Croatian thugs and the somewhat complacent, established criminal order. Kemal, a voluble, wisecracking, sometime rogue, employs the hard-boiled Mike Hammer technique of sleuthing: walk into the enemy camp, ask blunt questions, and get beaten senseless—before finally setting things right. It’s difficult to take him terribly seriously as a tough, Marlowe-esque PI, but for readers who enjoy armchair travel with their crime, Kismet offers an illuminating glimpse of the multicultural New Germany, the burgeoning racism Kemal confronts almost daily, and the plight of refugees from the vicious ethnic conflict in what was once Yugoslavia. --Thomas Gaughan
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"Slibulsky and I were crammed into the china cupboard, emptied for that purpose, of a small Brazilian restaurant on the outskirts of the Frankfurt railway station district, waiting for a couple of racketeers to show up demanding protection money."
Romario, owner and manager of the restaurant Saudade, has already had one run-in with the Army of Reason. Two goons disguised by heavy white makeup handed Romario a note reading: "Your monthly donation to the Army of Reason is now due. Many thanks for your commitment to this good cause."
When Romario demurred they tore off his thumb with a pair of pliers, wrote "Back on Thursday" on the thumb and left it on the bar. It is now Thursday.
Soon enough two thugs wearing heavy white makeup show up. At a prearranged signal Kayankaya and Slibulsky burst out of the cupboard yelling, "Hands up!" In the shootout that follows both thugs are killed. It remains for Romario to mop up the blood and Kayankaya and Slibulsky to get rid of the bodies.
They take the BMW the two racketeers were driving, bury the bodies in the woods and hide the BMW in Slibulsky's garage. Kayankaya is not a killer and his need to identify the thug he killed bugs him throughout the rest of the story.
This story moves with glacial speed but it's humorous and I kept turning the pages. Kayankaya is part detective, part flim-flam man.He's a loner, with few real friends but some colorful associates. He abhors violence but risks everything in his pursuit of truth and justice.
In his zeal to find out who runs the Army of Reason, Kayankaya is not above subtle blackmail to get information from the head of the Frankfurt immigration police squad. Kayankaya's suspicions lead him to the owner of a packet-soup and instant-pudding factory.Kayankaya gets through to the head man by claiming to be the owner of an import-export business who wants to buy two million soup packets for Hungarian relief. He escapes with his life with the help of a secretary he thinks of as Miss Chewing Gum.
Frankfurt is rife with ethnic gangs and competing gang lords and Kayankaya gets blood and bruises for his troubles, but he survives and manages to rescue a couple of people along the way. I like him best in scenes like this, where he's eating crisp bread and sardines when Slibulsky calls:
quote) `I'm eating sardines out of the can at this moment and feeling glad they don't have their heads on,' I said, contributing my mite to the conversation. `Normally I prefer them whole.' ... We rang off, and I went on eating sardines. The storm was beginning outside, thunder rolling and lightning flashing, the first drops were falling, and soon there was a waterfall cascading down outside my windows. When the storm moved away an hour later it left a grey, dripping dishcloth above the city. (end quote)
The ending is a twist and a half.
This is the fourth detective thriller by German author Jakob Arjouni but it seems to be the second to be translated into English. A third, Happy Birthday, Turk!, is due to appear from Melville House in February. All feature Turkish immigrant detective Kemal Kayankaya. He isn't too fast on his feet or too sharp at detecting and the bad guys beat him occasionally but boy, is he dogged. Once on the trail, he never leaves it.
In this installment of the Kayankaya chronicles, he agrees to help an immigrant friend, a restaurateur named Rosario, who is being threatened by two truly weird thugs, who wear painted white faces, sport yellow fright wigs on their heads, and never say a word, just hand over a note to Rosario demanding "protection" money: refuse to pay, and bad things will happen. Kayankaya's intervention makes things worse, and soon Kayankaya, a friend of his and Rosario are all three on the run with a hit squad of Croatian nationalists in hot pursuit.
Kayankaya is a delightful character, but more like Parnell Hall's Stanley Hastings than Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, no matter the hype on the jacket cover -a sharp tongue but prone to mishaps. His language is flip, sometimes overly colorful, but fun to read. (A bad guy is described as coming in like "Popeye on coke" -"to see from one end of his shoulders to the other I had to turn my head back and forth slightly, as if watching tennis." Shortly after that, a young immigrant girl with a terrible potty mouth tells him she learned her German by watching porno films in the immigrant hostel where she was housed and reading the novel, The Sperm Huntresses, which was the only books she had at hand.)
Not earthshaking but enjoyable, Kismet is a welcome introduction to a private investigator I hope to come across again soon. This is another solid entry from, Melville House.
David Keymer. Modesto CA.