Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review: Kismet

Private eyes make great fish out of water characters because they already have to be the one separate from their society in order to expose the immoral. This is exemplified with Jakob Arjouni’s detective: Kemal Kayankaya, a Turkish immigrant living in Germany. Through racism, he feels isolated in Frankfurt even before he turns his attention to stopping the organized crime force known as the Army of Reason.

Kayankaya first encounters them when a local businessman asks for his help because the Army is forcing him to pay a regular payment for his “safety.” One gunfight later, things become more complicated. The investigation is very satisfying, but it’s usually Kayankaya that hurts the pacing of the book. Arjouni tends to have Kayankaya give lengthy mental sidebars in the middle of conversations and plot.

However, Kayankaya is usually very entertaining especially when telling jokes or interacting with his partner, Slibulsky, about his lack of a personal life. The larger examination of prejudice in Germany is interesting, but sometimes the distance feels that something was lost in translation. Kismet is actually the fourth Kayankaya book, but this is the first one published in English. Melville House shall publish the other three in intervals in 2011.

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