A historical mystery with a eunuch as a detective makes an interesting prospect in the usually rule by books mystery genre.Added to that if the background is the historically rich Istanbul,then it is icing on the cake.Jason Goodwin's Janissery Tree is one such novel which on one side is a finely crafted mystery novel but also on the other side gives you glimpses of Istanbul of 1830s without the usual stale history which you read in professional history books.
When four soldiers of the army is missing, Vizier is worried and he calls for the help of Eunuch Yashim,who has the uncanny ability to talk to people,make them at ease and thereby drawing their secrets.Mean while there are some jewels also missing from the palace and Yashim is given the assignment of catching the thief also.We are taken along this quest by Yashim where the suspects range from the rebels Janissaries to foreign powers ranging from Russians to British.
More than the mystery aspect,I loved this novel for the atmosphere which Goodwin was able to invoke.The Istanbul of 1836 comes alive before us in Goodwin's beautiful writing.But a minor irritation was Yashim's love life depicted and his encounter which was not convincing. Initially mystery is intriguing,but as it proceeds,I will say it goes little bit off track and pace slows a bit,but nevertheless it ends in a surprising conclusion when Goodwin ties all the ends neatly and do not disappoint.
My Rating: GOOD