Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Barbara Nadel: A Collection of Links

At last night's discussion of Belshazzar's Daughter, I said that I would post some interesting links to interviews with the author, Barbara Nadel, as well as articles she has written. Finally, there are two links concerning the final identification of the "missing" Romanov children. One link is to the research paper documenting the DNA analysis.


Barbara Nadel   (February 20, 2006)

Quest for the intangible: Barbara Nadels's detectives and demons   (June 16, 2007)

Barbara Nadel: Chatting about her newest book and the facts of writing  
(July 5, 2009)

"Istanbul is Always There": Barbara Nadel's Inspector Ikmen Series   (May 19, 2010)

The Outsider: An Interview with Barbara Nadel   (October 12, 2010)

Articles Written by Barbara Nadel 

Where the Bodies are Hid   (2005?)

The Last Hookah: with a smoking ban looming, Barbara Nadel seeks out Istanbul's water pipe salons and laments the end of a 400 year old tradition
(May 23, 2009)

Istanbul: My Kind of Town   (June 2, 2009)

Insider's Istanbul   (March 22, 2010)

The Romanovs
Mystery of murdered Czar's missing children solved by DNA Study
(March 11, 2009)

 Mystery Solved: The Identification of the Two Missing Romanov Children Using DNA Analysis
(March 11, 2009)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Istanbul - A Great City Inspires Authors

Byzantium, Constantinople, and finally, Istanbul. Whatever the name, this ancient city that bridges Europe and Asia has long inspired writers with its busy harbor, labyrinthine underground, and magnificent buildings. The capital of Turkey, it is the fourth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million.

Several mystery authors have used this ancient city as the setting for three very different mystery series. Different in their periods and characters, but similar in their intriguing descriptions of the place and its diverse population.

British author Barbara Nadel has set her series in contemporary Istanbul. Her detective, Inspector Cetin Ikmen, is a chain smoking, police detective with a very large family and an interesting team of colleagues. Only the first four books in the series have been published in the United States, but hopefully the others will be forthcoming. The crimes and characters are both well written and full of atmosphere. Start with Belshazzar’s Daughter, which begins with a bizarre murder in the Russian emigre community.

Jason Goodwin’s The Janissary Tree won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Macavity in 2007. His detective, Yashim Togalu, serves the Ottoman sultan in 1830′s Istanbul. Yashim is supported by interesting characters including a defunct Ambassador of Poland and the Valide, the sultan’s mother. The plots are typically based on political situations of the time and the setting is ripe with the smells and sights of the ancient city and port.

Go back another 13 centuries when the city was known to the world as Byzantium, capital to the 6th century Roman Empire for Mary Reed’s John the Eunuch series. John serves as the Lord Chamberlain in Justinian’s very newly Christian court. The politics and machinations are every bit as outrageous as the Roman Roman Empire with everyone jockeying for power and protection against a backdrop of old religions and bickering courtiers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Random Food for Thought on The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Michael Chabon said in interviews that to prepare for Yiddish Policemen's Union, he re-read his favorite mystery writers -- Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross Macdonald. Can you see the hard-boiled influence in Yiddish Policemen's Union? Would you consider it a hard-boiled mystery like The Big Sleep?

Chabon has been described as a writer who can take genre novels into the realm of literary fiction. "His books show a remarkable ability to be comfortable in exploiting the delights of genre writing and yet incorporate enough imaginative variation on the genres to be taken seriously by the literary establishment." (J. Madison Davis, World Literature Today, 2008). Do you think more mysteries should be taken seriously by the 'literary establishment'? Does anyone care what they think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Books mentioned last time

Sorry for the delay. Here are books that you all recommended during our last meeting. Links should take you to the library catalog.

Author Donna Leon

Mistress of the Art of Death. And there's a follow-up, A Murderous Procession.

Author Maj Sjowall

Author Alexander McCall Smith

Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell


Friday, September 10, 2010


The Big Sleep's Marlowe runs all over Los Angeles. Here is a link for a map that shows his various locations. (If you click on the different sections, they get big enough to read.)

Raymond Chandler himself lived in 24 different houses around Los Angeles. Here's a  link to a map of those spots, for any L.A. buffs out there.

Philip Marlowe, Cowboy

I got excited after finishing The Big Sleep, and decided to look up hard-boiled detective fiction in the library's "Academic Search Complete" database. There, I learned that some critics have compared characters like Marlowe to the cowboys or frontiersmen of western fiction. The detectives are described as "carving civilization out of the wilderness," even if they contend with an urban landscape instead of a natural one -- "a world in which [the detective] is constantly under siege." Like a cowboy, the hard-boiled detective is a loner who solves problems with action and adventuring.

Does this comparison work for The Big Sleep? Is Marlowe like a frontiersman or the hero of a Western? How might Chandler be creating a wilderness landscape for his detective?

Also: Did you think there was an awful lot of talk about thumbs and fingers and teeth in The Big Sleep? You're not alone... 

(The links above will ask you to log in with your library card number and pin).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Portrait with Cat

How awesome is this picture?

Our book for September 14, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, was the author's first novel and a breakout hit. In The Big Sleep, he combined two earlier stories he had written for pulp fiction magazines. The Big Sleep is also the first appearance of Chandler's famous character, detective Philip Marlowe. Chandler, who had been struggling financially, found work in Hollywood soon after the publication of his first novels. He went from earning a penny a word for his first pulp stories to making thousands as a screenwriter for Paramount Studios.

[Biographical information taken from the EBSCO database "Biography Collection Complete," available through the Library Web site.)