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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Prophet Murders

Mehmet Murat Somer

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To purchase The Prophet Murders

Title: The Prophet Murders
Author: Mehmet Murat Somer
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 234 pages
Original in: Turkish
Availability: The Prophet Murders - US
The Prophet Murders - UK
The Prophet Murders - Canada
  • Turkish title: Peygamber Cinayetleri
  • Translated by Kenneth Dakan
  • Part of the Hop-Çiki-Yaya series

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Our Assessment:

B : presumably everything you could ask for in a Turkish transvestite mystery -- but not much more

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Telegraph . 10/5/2008 Jake Kerridge
The Times . 9/5/2008 Peter Millar

  From the Reviews:
  • "The novel promises at first to be as screamingly camp as its hero/ine's wardrobe, but turns out to be quite sober and thoughtful, witty rather than arch and restrained even when filthy." - The Telegraph, Jake Kerridge

  • "This is heady ground for a camp comedic thriller, especially when it is littered with references to rampant homosexual practice. As such it is a healthy and well-timed reminder that our stereotypes can be well wide of the mark, as well as a chilly amusing high-adrenalin romp through what seems at times like an alternative universe." - Peter Millar, The Times

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:

       The Prophet Murders is narrated by a (here still nameless) transvestite ("I glory in being both Man and Woman"). S/he's part-owner of a nightclub, works with computers, and is "practised in Aikido and Thai-boxing."
       The book begins with her/him reading about the murder of yet another transvestite. The odd circumstances of the death suggest there's more than meets the eye to this, and looking into it s/he finds that a serial killer seems to be on the loose, targeting transvestites. It's soon also clear that the murderer is targeting transvestites whose given (male) names are the same as those of the prophets. Naturally curious (and concerned about his/her friends and clientele) -- and given that the police can barely be bothered to look into these deaths --, the narrator investigates, playing at being an amateur sleuth: "Merhaba Poirot", someone suggests; "You may refer to me as Miss Marple," s/he responds.
       Some good connexions help: a childhood friend ("we'd suck each others lips until they were swollen" in those good old days) is now police commissioner, and provides some helpful professional assistance. But the narrator is quite capable him/herself, and in particular his/her computer skills come in handy, helping lead him/her down the proper trails (as well as some blind alleys).
       The mystery part of The Prophet Murders unwinds fairly predictably: it's a paint-by-the-numbers work in that respect, though competently enough done to satisfy most fans of the genre. But the real appeal of the novel is in the milieu it describes, and in the main character. The narrator is an entertaining figure, immersed in the transvestite scene but also understanding that aspects of it are hard to take entirely seriously. Many of the queens are ridiculously dim and/or fussy, making for an amusing cast of characters (though even this gets a bit monotonous).
       Fairly daringly, Somer also brings the religious issues to the fore, describing a society of homosexuals repressed by the demands and precepts of the prevalent religion -- and the sometimes very unpleasant consequences thereof. (It's no surprise that the prophet-murderer behind the crimes has issues which are grounded in the fundamentals of this society.)
       Fairly amusing, with a few uncomfortably graphic scenes, The Prophet Murders is an unusual exotic murder mystery. Somer has a nice, easy-going tone and manner (though it too often doesn't go anywhere far) and there's certainly potential for the series.

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The Prophet Murders: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Turkish author Mehmet Murat Somer was born in 1959.

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