Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review: The Kiss Murder

I posted a few weeks back that I had bought a book entitled The Kiss Murder, by Turkish author Mehmet Murat Somer. I wasn't familiar with the author, but the premise was intriguing, that of a drag queen detective. I was in the middle of reading a fantasy series, Joe Abercrombie's "The First Law", so I set the book aside for when I finished. I'm waiting for the library to get the last Abercrombie, so I read The Kiss Murder.

The protagonist is nameless. He works as a computer programmer/hacker by day, and it part-owner/hostess of a drag club at night. One of his girls comes to him at the club in obvious distress. When she was younger, she had an affair with someone who has since become prominent in business or government. Now someone is trying to get her to help blackmail said person, because she collected notes and photos as mementos of the affair. Then the girl turns up murdered.

What follows is twisty. I had to read up on Turkey, because I didn't know much about the country, beyond the CIA World Factbook bits. They're a secular democracy, struggling against an undercurrent of the same kind of militant Islamism that is rampant in that part of the world. That there is a small but thriving trans community in this place is pleasantly surprising. While I don't know much about Turkey, I do know clubs, and drag queens. It wasn't hard to submerge myself in this environment. All my years working on the night shift in hotels have acquainted me with cab drivers and dancers and other less savory characters.

The story doesn't so much focus on an attempt to solve the crime. It's more of an account of the lead's interaction with the events. When the end comes, it's almost anti-climactic. Don't misunderstand; I did enjoy the book. I didn't know when I bought it, but there's actually another book which precedes this one: The Prophet Murders, about someone murdering transvestites (their words, not mine). I'll have to look for that one.