From all the wonderful reviews this got, I have to admit I was expecting more from this mystery set during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. Goodwin is a skillful writer, and he has an obvious love for Turkey and its culture, but the plot seemed hackneyed and the execution was less than riveting.
The protagonist Inspector Yashim is a colorful character. A eunuch working as a sort of fixer for the royal family he is a man whose time has gone. Eunuchs and royalty are leaving the stage, to be replaced by modern military men and bureaucrats. And that schism, between the old world, represented here by the Janisarries, and the new, represented by Turkey’s new European style army is the conflict that lies underneath this book.
Still, as charming as Yashim is, and as interesting as that time period was in Turkish history, I cared so little for everyone else in the book that I had a hard time finishing it. I hope in between writing the Janissary Tree and his next book, Goodwin brushed up on what makes a good mystery thriller, and can deliver a plot line and set of supporting characters that equal Inspector Yashim and the times of which he is writing about.
Recommended for the enthusiast.