Divorce Turkish Style

Written by Esmahan Aykol

Review written by Katherine Armstrong

Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.

Divorce Turkish Style
Bitter Lemon Press
RRP: £8.99
Released: September 17, 2015

Esmahan Aykol’s latest Kati Hirschel mystery sees the bookseller-and-sleuth investigate the death of a woman she knew only vaguely as a fellow diner in her local restaurant.

Aided by her best friend and colleague Fofo (the Watson to her Holmes, or, more aptly, the Captain Haddock to her TinTin), Kati inserts herself into the case surrounding Sani Ankarahgil, a socialite and politically active ecologist who was married – and was divorcing – her wealthy husband Cem. Was Sani’s death a tragic accident, or was she murdered? That’s what Kati and Fofo want to find out, but so do the police, especially Homicide Detective Commander Batuhan, a man whom Kati has helped solve a murder case before – or rather, in Kati’s mind, he’d helped her:

Since it was me rather than him who’d solved the two murder cases on which we’d collaborated, I couldn’t help thinking that, had I been a member of the police force, I too might have been promoted to a senior rank at Police HQ by now.

I have to admit that I love books about bookshops (it’s the bibliophile in me). It’s the dream of being surrounded by books in a lovely bijou bookshop somewhere exotic where the sun shines constantly and customers spend a long time browsing and discussing books – or even just a nice bookshop in New York in the Village or on the West Side would suffice, I’m not picky!  Having worked in a bookshop though, I know that the reality can be somewhat different; also, as it was in Scotland, the sun really was only a dream for most of the year . . .

I’d not read a Kati Hirschel mystery before but I enjoyed the humour and the passages where Aykol pokes gentle fun at crime writing tropes. Kati is constantly making assumptions about the people she meets and more often than not, she is proved wrong (you know what they say about assumptions . . .). She is certainly not an all-knowing Holmes or Poirot, which is a refreshing change. While there are times when the writing (or perhaps it’s the translation) feels a bit clumsy in its turn of phrase, Divorce Turkish Style is a relatively light-hearted read that is entertaining. Aykol’s descriptions of Istanbul are vivid and the excursion to Istanbul’s environs shows a deeper understanding of the culture and the geography of the country. Bitter Lemon Press is a small publisher who packs a great punch in terms of the crime fiction they publish. In Kati Hirschel, they’ve added a memorable character to an already strong list.  

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