Copyright © 2003 Barbara Nadel
The right of Barbara Nadel to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2011
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
eISBN: 978 0 7553 7855 5
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
Table of Contents
About the Author
Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now writes full time and has been a regular visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger for her novel
in 2005. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed Francis Hancock series set during World War Two.
‘Best crime fiction of the year by a new writer was Barbara Nadel’s
. . . great blooming baroque plot (ditto talent)’
‘This is an extraordinarily interesting first novel’
‘Really refreshing to encounter something as idiosyncratic and evocative among debut novels as Barbara Nadel’s İstanbul-set thriller’
‘Unusual and very well-written’
‘Intriguing, exotic . . . exciting, accomplished and original’
‘Will have you looking over your shoulder’
‘An accomplished debut from an exciting new writer’
A CHEMICAL PRISON
, with its brilliantly realised İstanbul setting and innovative protagonist was a hard act to follow. But she pulls off the trick triumphantly’
‘Even better than Nadel’s extraordinary first book. The narrative is more tightly organised and the dark, Byzantine plot springs organically from the tensions of race and class in Turkish society, which is treated with a depth and detail unusual in a crime novel’
‘A thriller that presents a Middle Eastern city populated by human beings rather than specimens of oriental exotica, and a British writer who can get inside a foreign skin’
‘A brainteasing, thought-provoking tale from a first-rate author’
‘The delight of the Nadel book is the sense of being taken beneath the surface of an ancient city which most visitors see for a few days at most. We look into the alleyways and curious dark quartiers of İstanbul, full of complex characters and louche atmosphere’
‘The İstanbul atmosphere is as thick as Turkish coffee and the novel is crammed with fascinating information’
‘Particularly interesting for its discussion of Turkish customs and beliefs’
‘A bewitching style . . . a story that carries the reader forward willingly along until the well-sprung denouement’
‘Barbara Nadel continues to go from strength to strength with her atmospheric and idiosyncratic İstanbul-set thrillers . . . one of the most original crime series currently in progress’
‘As before Nadel presents a gallery of richly created characters along with the superb scene-setting we have come to expect from her’
Good Book Guide
‘Intelligent and captivating mystery recalls Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen stories’
‘As always, it’s the characters which make this series so fascinating’
‘My reader rates this author higher than Donna Leon’
‘One of the most exciting of new crime writers’
Good Book Guide
I’ve had a difficult year and have had a lot of help from many people. This book is dedicated to them, particularly my mother, my husband and son, my friends Peter, Kathy and Alison and all my colleagues at Good Companions. In addition, I’d also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to my agent Juliet Burton; Anne Williams, Sarah Keen and Zoë Carroll at Headline and Senay and Sırma at my Turkish publishers, Oğlak in İstanbul.
Blood had never been part of the equation before. But now, suddenly, there it was. Of course things had been . . . deteriorating for some time. But he’d closed his eyes to that.
He looked down into the depths of his huge crescent-shaped pool and thought, I’ll have to sort it out. Not leave it to Vedat any more. He then added out loud, ‘I will have to go home immediately.’
After all, it wasn’t just him, was it? Others were involved too – people far above him in the scheme of things. People who were counting on him to sort it out. People who, even now, still didn’t know the whole truth . . .
G had said, ‘Well, they’re your people, you know them. Do something or we will have to.’
That had made his blood run cold, that and the whispers of fear he had picked up around the pool earlier in the day – whispers from men who had been his friends. Men who now said they would ‘hang him out to dry’ if the shit hit the fan.
With a determination born only of fear, he opened the door to the pool house and went inside. A young blonde woman lay on a huge leather couch watching an old episode of
The Cosby Show
He called across to her, ‘We must pack tonight. I have to go home.’
The woman, startled by this sudden pronouncement, turned and looked up at him.
‘But we are home,’ she said. ‘This—’
‘I mean my home,’ the man responded bluntly. ‘Türkiye.’
Çetin İkmen finished what was left of his coffee and placed his cup down on the breakfast table. The hot İstanbul morning was already making him tetchy and so the last thing he needed was a disgruntled child. He looked up at his pretty teenage daughter sitting opposite.
‘Well, Hulya,’ he said, ‘if you don’t want to continue working in the pastane then what do you want to do?’
‘I want to work in entertainment,’ she replied.
İkmen rubbed the sides of his face wearily. ‘In what capacity?’ he asked.
Before she replied, Hulya looked briefly across at the young boy sitting next to her. Only when she was certain that he was totally engrossed in the book he was reading did she say, ‘I want to be an actress.’
But Hulya miscalculated badly. The boy, Bülent, flung his book to the floor and burst out laughing.
Hulya rounded on him angrily. ‘I wasn’t talking to you!’ she said. ‘I was having a conversation with Dad!’
‘Children . . .’
‘You need talent to be an actress, you know!’ Bülent, unmindful of his father’s warning, teased. ‘And you have to sleep with everybody—’
‘Well, I’m only saying what I think.’ Bülent shrugged off the mounting anger on his father’s face. ‘And anyway, Dad, since when were you prudish about such things?’
‘I’m not!’ And then turning to his daughter, İkmen added, ‘But your mother is.’
‘Oh, so I can’t even think about it because Mum wouldn’t approve!’
‘It’s what you’re saying, Dad.’
‘Yes, it is,’ her brother agreed. ‘It’s definitely what you’re implying.’
‘You keep out of this!’ İkmen now roused to fury pointed a warning cigarette at his son, ‘Allah, but it’s been like a war zone in this place since your mother left! Surrounded by teenagers! Is it any wonder a man can’t take his rest in comfort!’ He lit up what his son knew from experience was at least his fifth cigarette of the morning.
Bülent rose from his seat. ‘Well, I’m going to work anyway.’ He smiled at his sister and added, ‘Not all of us can spend our time dreaming about stardom.’
‘The name of this family is İkmen, Hulya.’ He patted her shoulder in a deeply patronising fashion. ‘Our dad’s a policeman which means there’s neither glamour nor money in our lives. Learn acceptance.’ And then with a smirk he left.
His furious sister made as if to go after him, but was restrained by her equally furious, if more weary, father.
‘Oh, leave him be!’ İkmen said. He let go of his daughter’s hand and slumped back into his chair. ‘You and your brother, you’re like a pair of cats fighting over meat. Every day I get this. Argue, argue, argue! How your mother controls you I don’t know. I can’t. All my adult life I’ve worked as a police officer in the toughest city in Turkey and I can’t control my own children!’
‘When, Inşallah, your mother returns from visiting Uncle Talaat, I may well break with a lifetime of atheism and give thanks to the Almighty and Merciful.’ Noting the shocked look on his daughter’s face, he continued, ‘Yes, it is that serious, Hulya! Two weeks now and all I get from you and your brother is complaints, rudeness and bad attitude. Uncle Talaat is very sick and so your mother needs to know that we are all managing when she calls. She’s looking after your uncle and all your little brothers and sisters too, it’s as hot as a hearth out there in Antalya and yet every time she calls I have to speak to her against a background of your bickering!’
Hulya lowered her large, dark eyes. ‘Dad—’
‘If your older brothers weren’t so busy I’d send you both to stay with them. Split you two up.’ He puffed furiously on his cigarette before putting it out and lighting another.
‘I’d happily stay with Çiçek,’ Hulya said, naming her elder sister who now shared an apartment out by Atatürk Airport.
‘Oh?’ her father replied acidly. ‘Would you?’
İkmen crossed his thin arms and looked down his considerable nose at the cowed girl before him. ‘You who cannot get to your place of work on time when you live only fifty metres from it, you want to live at least forty-five minutes away?’
‘I’ve told you, I don’t want to work at the pastane any more, I—’
‘Oh, yes, of course, you want to be an actress, don’t you?’ He leaned forward and smiled unpleasantly into her face. ‘I’m so sorry I forgot.’
İkmen rose smartly from his seat and headed out towards the hall.
‘I’m going to work now,’ he said, ‘I have no choice.’
Hulya, who was not unaware of the realities of life despite her wants and her protestations, slumped forward onto her elbows and put her head in her hands.