Copyright © 2005 Barbara Nadel
The right of Barbara Nadel to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2011
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
eISBN: 978 0 7553 7857 9
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Table of Contents
About the Author
Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now writes full time and has been a regular visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger for her novel
in 2005. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed Francis Hancock series set during World War Two.
To Malcolm – a real star.
Thanks to all the usual suspects in Turkey and the UK. However, special mentions go out to Jim for his magical insight, to Alex for helping me with my occult connections, and to Malcolm for his computer expertise. Also special thanks to the Göreme ‘gang’: Pat, Ruth, Jeyda, Faruk, Hüseyin, Dawn and Caroline. Time spent amongst the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ allowed me to finish this book.
Çetin İkmen – middle-aged senior İstanbul police inspector
Fatma İkmen – Çetin’s wife and mother to his nine children
Çiçek İkmen – Çetin and Fatma’s eldest daughter
Hulya İkmen Cohen – Çiçek’s younger sister, married to Berekiah Cohen
Balthazar Cohen – ex-police constable, father of Berekiah
Jak Cohen – Balthazar’s brother, a wealthy nightclub owner, resident in the UK
Mehmet Süleyman – İstanbul police inspector, used to work for Çetin İkmen
Zelfa Halman – psychiatrist, Mehmet Süleyman’s wife and mother to his son, Yusuf
Zuleika Topal – Mehmet Süleyman’s ex-wife, married to Burhan Topal
Fitnat Topal – Zuleika’s stepdaughter
Dr Arto Sarkissian – Armenian pathologist, Çetin İkmen’s oldest friend
Dr Krikor Sarkissian – Arto’s older brother, an addiction specialist
Commissioner Ardıç – Çetin İkmen and Mehmet Süleyman’s boss
Ayşe Farsakoğlu – Çetin’s female sergeant
İsak Çöktin – Mehmet Süleyman’s sergeant – a Kurd
Kasım Çöktin – İsak’s cousin
Metin İskender – young police inspector
Alpaslan Karataş – Metin İskender’s sergeant
Maximillian (Max) Esterhazy – an English teacher and Kabbalist
Ülkü Ayla – Max Esterhazy’s maid
Turgut Can – Ülkü Ayla’s boyfriend
Gonca – a gypsy artist and fortune-teller
İbrahim Dede – antiquarian bookseller and dervish
Demir Sandal – a pornographer
She didn’t walk on to the ferry, she skipped. The Bosphorus Tour – a long, leisurely trip up the great waterway – tourists did it every day. As she scanned the rows of seats on the lower deck for somewhere suitable, she smiled. Tourists, yes, there were a few, but there weren’t any young, single Turkish girls like her. She found a place next to a couple in their thirties who spoke in a language she couldn’t even begin to fathom, and sat down. Just being stationary on the water made her feel cooler. Summer had lingered on late this year, persisting in a fierceness that had left everyone feeling debilitated. It was so nice to be both outside and cool.
The couple sitting next to her were poring over a guidebook to İstanbul. She noticed that it wasn’t written in the Roman alphabet. The woman, all dazzling teeth and brown skin, looked up at her. The man said something in the strange language that they shared, which prompted the woman to speak to her in what she recognised as English.
‘Do you speak English?’ the woman said.
She nodded proudly. ‘Yes.’
The woman moved the guidebook over to show her. ‘Can you tell me where is the last place this boat stops?’
She looked at the map of the Bosphorus, studded with what looked more like random odd marks than words. She pointed to the small collection almost at the top of the Bosphorus and said, ‘Is Anadolu Kavaḡı, then the boat returns.’
‘Ah. Thank you.’
The woman went to turn away, back to the man, but the girl, unable to resist, continued, ‘I am going there to Anadolu Kavaḡı to meet someone.’
‘Oh,’ the woman said, probably imagining that she meant a boyfriend of some sort. ‘Have you been to the Princes’ Islands?’ she asked, flicking once more through the pages of her strange guidebook.
‘Yes, but this is not the tour of the Islands,’ the girl said. ‘This is—’
‘I know,’ the woman replied. ‘We go to the Islands tomorrow. There are some many Jewish people in the Islands, I think.’
The girl shrugged.
‘We are from Israel,’ the woman said, indicating that the man was included with her.
‘Ah.’ So that’s what the strange marks in the guidebook were – Hebrew. The girl suddenly furrowed her brow. Once, quite a time ago, he had said that it was important to understand Hebrew, for some reason. But he hadn’t mentioned it since. Perhaps that came later.
As the ferry sounded its horn and moved out into the sparkling blueness of the Bosphorus, the girl, smiling again now, closed her eyes.
He had been invited to the actual ceremony, but he couldn’t face it. Not on his own. İkmen, although he hadn’t actually said anything, had understood. When he’d said he could only make it to the party the inspector had patted him kindly on the shoulder and smiled. But then İkmen, both his friend as well as his colleague,
The man sitting in the Pera Palas Hotel teashop, waiting to go to the wedding reception of the daughter of his friend Çetin İkmen, didn’t look like a man anticipating a good time. At thirty-nine, Inspector Mehmet Süleyman of the İstanbul police was both thinner and sadder than he had ever been before. And although, as his mother never tired of telling him, he was still dazzlingly handsome, Mehmet was painfully aware of what his fears and anxieties were doing to him. Smoking almost continually, he took little nourishment beyond the tea he was drinking now out of an antique silver-encrusted glass.
He looked around the slightly down-at-heel, self-consciously ‘Ottoman’ tearoom and smiled. How well this place summed him up! The deep, brocade-covered tub seats, the ratty ostrich-feather fan suspended from the tall, dark hat stand in the corner. Faded artefacts from a past characterised by fezzes and fat odalisques, by consumptive Turkish princes drinking crates of champagne while their Empire rotted around them. Spoiled, ignorant men, self-destructing to forget – like Mehmet’s own princely grandfather. Like Mehmet.
How could he have been so stupid? To sleep with another woman when one was already married was one thing, but to sleep with a prostitute . . . He shook his head at the memory of it, disgusted with both the recollection of the act and his enjoyment of it. Whether or not he would have told his wife, Zelfa, about his unprotected liaison with the Russian whore if the girl hadn’t been diseased, he didn’t know. The reality was that she had been HIV-positive and so to conceal what he had done from Zelfa had never been an option. His first test had been negative, but as his doctor, Krikor Sarkissian, had told him at the time, it was the second test, three months after the ‘contact’, that would show whether or not he was infected. Not that Zelfa had waited around to find this out. Irish on her mother’s side, an infuriated Zelfa Halman had packed up her elderly Turkish father, closed their house in Ortaköy and returned to Dublin. She had taken Mehmet’s infant son, Yusuf, too. The memory of the little boy caused tears to gather at the corners of Mehmet’s eyes. When would he see his son again? How would he, if he were HIV-positive, even begin to ask to see the child? Mehmet looked down at his left arm, recalling the sharp stab of the hypodermic needle in his vein. Dr Sarkissian had said that the results of the second test would take at least a week . . .
Mehmet took a sip of tea from his glass and lit yet another cigarette. When Zelfa threw him out, he’d had to return to his parents’ house, live cheek by jowl with the man some still called ‘Prince’ – his weak aristocratic father, Muhammed, his snobbish, common mother, Nur, and, thankfully, his widowed brother, Murad, and his young daughter, Edibe. His old friend Balthazar Cohen had offered him a room in his apartment in Karaköy – Mehmet had lived there during the hiatus between his first and second marriages – but the place was already cramped and, with Cohen’s son now married to İkmen’s daughter, space was about to become even more scarce. And so Mehmet endured. People did – until one day they stopped doing that. Until, he thought, bizarrely in the case of the young boy he’d seen the previous week, they took their own lives. Young, intelligent and from a wealthy background, Cem Ataman had destroyed himself in a way Süleyman found hard to think about, even though he could all too easily empathise with it. After all, he – unlike Cem, with his money, his youth and his place at İstanbul University – had very little to look forward to. Now, with the results of his second HIV test looming, there was only looking back – to happy times, to his son, to the past security of his own body . . .
He looked up at the familiar features of an attractive woman in her mid-thirties. Rising quickly to his feet, he offered the woman his hand. ‘Zuleika,’ he said with a small, tired smile. ‘How good to see you.’