The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

For the occasional crime fiction reader the appeal of The Devotion of Suspect X was irresitsible. The first of Keigo Higashino’s books to be translated into English, it has sold over a million copies in its native Japan, it has inspired a cult film and it has a genuinely creepy cover with neither a blood print or a bleak snowy landscape to be seen.

And there was definitely something about going into the Japanese space. It seems we have mined the world for fresh voices in thrills. Not content with home grown or gritty Scottish, or Los Angeles underbelly locations, we moved first to English speaking writers in foreign settings (Barbara Nadel in Turkey, Donna Leon in Venice, Alexander McCall Smith in Botswana and Colin Cotterill in Laos)  and now increasingly to more exotic Continue reading

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas

The last many years I have had an on again off again literary love affair with Turkey. It started with the wonderful Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières, was reborn with the elegaic The Bastard of Istanbul and has just been rekindled with the magical adventure  of The Oracle of Stamboul which is due for publication in late February.

Set in the heart of the exotic Ottoman Empire during the first years of its chaotic decline, Michael David Lukas’  enchanting debut novel follows a gifted young girl who dares to charm a sultan—and change the course of history, for Byzantium and the world. This is a  literary adventure, perfect for readers entranced by the mixture of historical fiction and magical realism although I do think that some of the comparisons to   Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude are just a tad hyperbolic. Having said that, Lukas is clearly closer to Orhan Palmuk than he is to Barbara Nadel. Continue reading

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