Barbara Nadel

The House of Four

""Nadel always has a sharp-eyed commentary on life in Istanbul..." "


In this twentieth book in the Inspector Ikmen series, Nadel looks into the mysterious world of the occult that lies beneath the surface in modern day Istanbul.

The focus of the book is a dilapidated former Ottoman house in the Moda district of Istanbul. The house was latterly the home of four siblings, living completely separate lives in four different apartments in the house. They are the children of an ex-patriate German from the First World War and his Turkish wife. Their father was called the devil by some and had an abiding interest in magic and the occult. At least one of the children was involved in alchemy. When all four siblings are discovered dead, stabbed through the heart, Inspector Ikmen is called in to investigate. All he has to go on is a treasure trove of papers and letters, all written in the old Ottoman script. Luckily he has to hand a young keen police constable with language skills who is called on to translate. What they discover is a deadly secret.

Alongside this investigation is a series of apparently random murders in the streets of Istanbul and the young couple arrested on suspicion of committing these crimes also has a link to the Devil's House. Cetin Ikmen is tasked with unravelling the mystery.

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Barbara Nadel manages to combine a cracking good story with a sympathetic description of her characters. Nadel always has a sharp-eyed commentary on life in Istanbul as it changes as the rise of the religious leaders increase their influence in day to day life. Inspector Ikmen is the voice of the old guard, strictly secular and slightly bemused by the rise of religious political correctness throughout society. His colleague, Inspector Suleyman is a passionate good looking man who attracts attention wherever he goes. A scion of the old Ottoman regime, he appears arrogant but, with Ikmen, is part of a powerful investigating team. There are other intriguing members of the team, all of whom contribute to the exciting pattern of characters that Nadel introduces to us. I feel that in future books Inspector Ikmen and Inspector Suleyman may cross swords with the powers that be. I look forward to seeing what happens. Nadel is the expert at bringing issues of the day to her novels and in describing Turkey she is bringing a wealth of knowledge and sympathetic experience to the case.

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