Chapter Excerpt

An unusual, exotic historical mystery that reads like literature and moves like a thriller. —George Pelecanos, author of Drama CityThe Janissary Tree is the first book in a series of mysteries set in nineteenth-century Istanbul and starring the unlikeliest and most engaging of detectives: Yashim the eunuch. The year is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire feels he has no choice but to follow suit. But just as he's poised to announce sweeping political change, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind the killings? Deep in the Abode of Felicity, the most forbidden district of Topkapi Palace, the sultan announces, Send for Yashim.Leading us through the palace's luxurious seraglios and Istanbul's teeming streets, Yashim pieces together the clues. He is not alone. He depends on the wisdom of a dyspeptic Polish ambassador, a transsexual dancer, and the Creole-born queen mother. He manages to find sweet salvation in the arms of another man's wife (this is not your everyday eunuch!). And he introduces us to the Janissaries. For 400 years, they were the empire's elite soldiers. But they grew too powerful, and ten years earlier the sultan had them crushed. Are the Janissaries staging a brutal comeback? And if they are, how can they be stopped without throwing Istanbul into political chaos?An...exotic tour of a time and a place where intrigue, deceit, and corruption fueled perilous personal and political passions. —Booklist

Excerpted from The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
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