Review: Body Count by Barbara Nadel (3.5/5)

Wednesday 25 June 2014
Any bloody death will lead Inspectors Çetin Ikmen and Mehmet Süleyman out onto the dark streets of Istanbul. 

On 21 January, a half-decapitated corpse in the poor multicultural district of Tarlabasi poses a particularly frustrating and gruesome mystery. But as the months pass and the violence increases, it turns into a hunt for that rare phenomenon in the golden city on the Bosphorus: a serial killer.

Desperate to uncover the killer's twisted logic as the body count rises, Ikmen and Süleyman find only more questions. How are the victims connected? What is the significance of the number 21? And how many Istanbullus must die before they find the answers?

Having never read anything by Barbara Nadel I was drawn to this book because of its setting. As much as I love crime fiction set in London and America, over the past few months I've looked for crime fiction set around the world and this series set in Turkey sounded exciting. That said though for me it's book one, for other readers it's book fifteen and you have to wonder whether the author can keep up with the quality (if the reviews are anything to go by) of what has gone before. After finishing I can say it's a solidly written story that definitely kept me reading and I'll be hoping to check out Nadel's previous books in the future.

I'm ashamed to say all I know about Istanbul is that it's the place Liverpool won the Champions League and is the name of a kebab house local to me. That said the author writes the setting really well, the book feels very authentic from start to finish and you get a real sense of place. Books set in foreign climates I feel should only be written by people that know what they are talking about and Nadel clearly does. I feel like alongside reading a well crafted and hugely enjoyable book I've learnt things I didn't previously know about a country I knew nothing about. You don't often get that with books set in London which is why I like to take a chance on books like this.

I am always wary of going into long standing series without having read previous books but our main characters Cetin Ikmen and Mehmet Süleyman soon became familiar to me. Hunting a serial killer which is not that rare for crime fiction readers but rare for the city of Istanbul, Ikmen and Süleyman soon get caught up in trying to catch the killer before s/he kills again. And I was completely caught up in it too. Plenty of twists, turns shocks and red herrings this is a book that will keep you guessing which is what I always want from a crime fiction read. The book can easily be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

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