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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Hotel Bosphorus

Esmahan Aykol

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To purchase Hotel Bosphorus

Title: Hotel Bosphorus
Author: Esmahan Aykol
Genre: Novel
Written: 2001 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 246 pages
Original in: Turkish
Availability: Hotel Bosphorus - US
Hotel Bosphorus - UK
Hotel Bosphorus - Canada
Hotel Bosphorus - India
Meurtre à l'hôtel du Bosphore - France
Hotel Bosporus - Deutschland
Hotel Bosforo - Italia
  • Turkish title: Kitapçı Dükkanı
  • Translated by Ruth Whitehouse

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Our Assessment:

B : decent start to a series, even if the actual crime/investigation-part here isn't that impressive

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 12/2/2004 Clara Branco
Publishers Weekly . 11/4/2011 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "(E)in Roman ohne Prätentionen und kommt frisch und unbekümmert daher, dem erfolgreichen Rezept des Krimis mit Weltstadttableau folgend, wie man es aus Donna Leons Venedig- und Petros Markaris' Athen-Romanen kennt. Nun also Istanbul." - Clara Branco, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Fans of such female detectives as Amanda Cross's Kate Fansler and Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher will find a lot to like." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Hotel Bosphorus introduces Kati Hirschel who, though she looks and seems German was actually born in Istanbul and, now in her early forties, has lived there again for the past thirteen years. As she explains:

     "I am an İstanbullu," I said. "The only place in the world where I feel at home is Istanbul. Maybe that's because Istanbul is the only place that has no objection to me being myself ...
       She speaks fluent Turkish, and she runs a bookshop that specializes in crime fiction.
       In Hotel Bosphorus she hears from an old friend from Germany, Petra, who has become a very successful actress. Now Petra is coming to Istanbul, to shoot her new film -- one which has a script by a top-flight talent, but is being directed by the distinctly B-class director, Kurt Müller. Müller winds up dead and Kati -- well, after all:
I'd been reading crime fiction since my childhood, and selling it for the last three years. I was no longer just an ordinary reader. The time had come for me to offer my theoretical knowledge for the benefit of society.
       So she meddles, befriending the inspector on the case, and nosing around for information both in Turkey and Germany. Matters are complicated by the semi-sinister but very prominent local gangster family that is involved in the film-making, and Kati follows a variety of trails in trying to figure out who committed the crime.
       Eventually she puts all the pieces in place, in what turns out to be a rather elaborate scheme (that's part of a bigger crime). The crime-solving is rather pedestrian, and the crime feels a bit too conveniently assembled for fiction-purposes -- but Hotel Bosphorus isn't driven by the mystery part. Aykol's interest is in character and situations, specifically the Turk-who-is-not-a-real-Turk Kati and how she is treated by the locals (and the foreigners: the visiting Germans manage, of course, to make predictable fools of themselves). It's not quite a fish-out-of-water story -- and that's also where the appeal lies: Kati is supremely comfortable in her own skin, and in Istanbul, and it's for the others to deal with that, not her to worry about. That's a nice and welcome spin on the usual stranger-in-a-strange-land story, and Aykol manages it well.
       An appealing counterpart to Jakob Arjouni's mysteries, Hotel Bosphorus is fairly unexceptional, but a solid foundation for a series in which, one hopes, Aykol gets on surer footing with the mystery aspects. Aykol knows her Germany as well as she does Turkey, and Kati's background -- her father was a prominent criminal lawyer and Jewish (the reason why the family left Germany decades earlier, before returning in 1965) -- suggests there's a lot of potential here. Kati is an intriguing (if a bit flighty) protagonist, and in the (unfortunately far too popular) 'atmospheric (exotic-)locale thriller'-genre, Hotel Bosphorus can certainly hold its own regarding the atmospheric elements.

- M.A.Orthofer, 30 June 2011

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Hotel Bosphorus: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Turkish author Esmahan Aykol was born in 1970.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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