Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a review of The Kiss Murder

The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Sommer (Penguin, ISBN 978-0143114727)

You might think from the title that you are about to read an ordinary mystery. But I would consider that wrong on two counts. There is nothing ordinary about this book...and I would not actually consider it a mystery, or at least not a typical mystery.

The narrator of our story, who remains nameless throughout the book, leads a very interesting life. By day, he is a computer expert, mainly contracting out to work on the Internet security systems of companies. It helps pay the bills and he is very good at his job. But by night, she, as the narrator then thinks of herself, come alive. Dressed in her best imitation of a young Audrey Hepburn, she is off to the nightclub she is part owner of and we start to see a part of Istanbul that I would think most of us never knew existed. We meet an interesting cast of characters, including many of her admirers, ex-lovers, hopeful future lovers, rivals, friends and most importantly her 'girls', the transvestite to transsexual and every stage in between employees who work there, some going home with the virile young men that pursue them for 'love' and some for money.

It is when one of her 'girls', very frightened, come to our narrator with a tale that our 'mystery' begins. It seems Buse (which is Turkish for kiss) once had a serious boyfriend and she is in possession of pictures and letters that document that several year relationship. But her ex-boyfriend is a very rich and very powerful man who would prefer knowledge of his relationship with another man, no matter how pretty he dresses or how well he does his makeup, remains a secret. Others, it would seem, would like nothing better than to get their hands on the material. When Buse turns up murdered the next day and police seem to have little interest in just another dead transvestite, her boss decided to see what he/she can find out. Needless to say, not every one is happy about that and it is lucky that among his/her other talents, our narrator is an expert Thai kickboxer. He might like to dress like Audrey, but he is no helpless waif.

I must say that, at first, the pronouns became a slight bit confused in my mind, especially when you throw in a variety of nicknames and Turkish monikers. But whether he is referring to himself as a him or as a her, our narrator is often quite amusing and smart, and takes us on an interesting jaunt through the traffic jammed and very hot streets of Istanbul. As to the mystery part, well, let's just say that the who and the why take a decidedly second place to our flamboyant, transvestite, club owning, computer expert, kickboxing hero(ine). If you are looking for a traditional mystery, you might be best to look elsewhere but if you are looking for interesting, rather exotic adventure, with a decidedly different leader, this might just be your cup of tea. And if it is, you will be happy to know that is just one in the six book Turkish Delight Series which is, slightly surprisingly, very popular in the author's native Turkey. The first two books, this one, published by Penguin and The Prophet Murders, from British publisher Serpent's Tail, have been translated and are now available and the third, The Gigolo Murder, will be available later this year. According to at least one interview with the author, conducted with Detectives Beyond Borders , we are going to discover a number of other aspects of the life of our hero as more of the series becomes available...I can only imagine what that might be!

Available From Amazon


  1. Hmm, I gave this ARC to my mom, who really likes mysteries. I'm not sure she'll like it so much if the emphasis is on other stuff, but that means I might like it instead. Thanks for reviewing!

  2. I haven't gotten around to reviewing this one yet but it was an ok read. Like you, at first I was confused with the she and he but light finally dawned on marble head and I just had to go with the flow. It did seem as if the mystery part was secondary. I chalked up the narrator being nameless due to his/her dual nature, shall we say putting it nicely. One person by day and another by night, hmmm how can you put a name to that? Well anyway, you hit the nail on the head with your review. Excellently stated.

  3. This is in my stacks - sounds like I need to read it soon.

  4. don't rush too

    I am on the fence as to whether I would read another in the series. I am intrigued that we will find out more about the narrator but otherwise, not too sure.

  5. I love hearing about books that are popular in other countries...not sure why, but there you have it.

    I also love the title to this series. Turkish Delight, bwahahaha. Very cute!

    I'm glad you reviewed this one...I've never heard of this series but now if I see one of them, I'll pick it up just for fun.

  6. I haven't heard of this series, and I'm not normally a big fan of mysteries but this one intrigues me because it seems so different from the usual "formula." Thanks for the review!

  7. When I first saw this cover, I was thinking, "That is one buff lady." But now that I've read what it is about finally, it makes more sense!

  8. Well, he/she is very buff it seems...

    And yes Ali, it certainly is not a typical mystery. Personally, I like typical mysteries...

  9. Michele, I was quite surprised to here this series is popular in Turkey, Muslim country that it is. Seems a bit at odds with our characters here..seems I don't know much about Turkey.

  10. Another one for my list. Where am I going to find the time?


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