Saturday 17 August 2013

Been a bit behind on reviews due to playing the marvellous Last of us and revisiting the world of Gormenghast. However back to it so here's a review for Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni



Kemal Kayankaya is a Turkish private eye working in Frankfurt. He is hired by the wife of an artist to find her missing 16 year old daughter who is alleged to be with an older man, a photographer. Whilst he is preparing for the missing person case, he is also hired for a body guarding gig for a Muslim author at Frankfurt Book Fair. The Muslim author has written a book about a homosexual Muslim and is apparently threatened with violence by religious extremists. Both cases are straightforward but once one bleeds into the other it leads to abduction and murder.


This is the 5th book in the Kemal series, I have not read any of the other books. Despite a couple of references to earlier cases and, I suspect, recurring characters I didn't feel it was necessary to have read the other books to follow the plot.


The book has been translated into many languages and has won awards including the German crime fiction prize. It is a very fast read being less than 200 pages long and in an easy reading style. It's not really my cup of tea so with that proviso take the following with a pinch of salt.


It felt as though the author was trying too hard in the first chapter, to establish Kemal as a Sam Spade/ Phillip Marlow style character. It's also heavy on the misogyny as he ogles the woman who is hiring him to find her daughter. I almost didn’t get past that first chapter but luckily the book settles down somewhat from that point for a fairly standard plot. Kemal is in his 50’s and he and his ex-prostitute girlfriend live together and there is a sub-plot of her trying to get pregnant and him wondering what fatherhood would be like. There were a few incongruities such as pretending to be a police officer but having no badge, or police car or convincing story and yet being believed. For me there was nothing to elevate this above the standard for the genre. It was competent and, although well written (a good translation) there was nothing to elevate it or convince me that I needed to spend any more time with Kemal. I won’t be getting the other books in the series.


Overall – Pretty standard PI tale

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