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by Jakob Arjouni
No Exit Press, August 2007
256 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 1842432354

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

KISMET begins with one of those heart-stopping scenes that remind you if you need it why you read genre fiction. PI Kemal Kayankaya and his best mate Slibulsky are holed up in a restaurant cupboard griping at each other. Within minutes, though, two men are lying dead on the restaurant floor.

The dead pair, dressed in smart suits and with white powder on their faces, appear to be part of a protection racket called Army of Reason. Kemal, reluctantly doing a favour for restaurant owner Romario who had previously been threatened by the men, wants to find out who he's killed and where the bizarre duo came from.

I've read one of Arjouni's earlier books, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TURK! and can't say I remember anything about it. But I shall be returning to the series, as KISMET blew me away.

The writing is impeccable (Anthea Bell's relaxed and idiomatic translation feels inch-perfect), the plotting tight and the 'voice' fabulous. Arjouni marries fairly gory violence with a wonderfully deadpan narrative style and some very dark humour.

Kemal's no angel, mind he's short of patience, has a sharp tongue and isn't immune to ripping off clients who annoy him. Frau Beierle is paying well over the odds for our hero to track down her missing dog, mainly, it seems because he feels patronised by her attitude to Turks. And he has a hold over a police chief with an eye for underage boys, meaning he can get inside information super-quick.

The immigrant angle is one of the main themes of KISMET, as Arjouni focuses on German nationalism and the unrest in the former Yugoslavia and how patriotism can run rampant many miles from home.

If you want intelligent, well-paced and totally engrossing 21st century crime fiction, KISMET fits the bill to perfection. This is quality storytelling.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, November 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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