A gripping existential thriller in the vein of Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2006).


A jaded crime novelist retires to a Turkish village on the brink of civil war.

The clichés of noir literature are infamously tricky to navigate, and many of those archetypes and tropes surface in this elegant crime novel by Turkish journalist and author Altan, his first to be translated into English. Thankfully, the author uses both characters and devices to marvelous effect, creating a hallucinatory fiction that reads as much like The Stranger (1942) as it does The Godfather (1969). It begins with a man admitting he has just murdered someone. From there, our nameless narrator (a crime writer, naturally) spins a dizzying tale about the small Turkish village where he enters semiretirement. A world-weary, womanizing writer is a well-worn chestnut, but Altan breathes life into his virile hero with interesting flaws. Taking his place as the “coffeehouse sage” of the village, the writer quickly becomes enmeshed by its internal strife. He falls in love with Zuhal, a woman whose heart belongs to the corrupt mayor, Mustafa Gürz. This doesn’t stop him from dallying with Kamile (the femme fatale wife of a local crime boss) or frequenting the bedroom of Sümbül (a prostitute with a heart of gold). It’s a town laden with gang violence, much of it sparked by the rumor of a Roman treasure buried underneath a Christian church. “It might seem strange to an outsider but after living in the town for long enough you got used to the killing and the fact that certain killers go free,” Altan writes. “It even begins to seem natural for them to shoot each other in broad daylight.” The book isn’t without flaws—Altan is enamored with internet chats between our hero and Zuhal, and readers seeking a traditional whodunit may be left wanting. But readers looking for a contemplative, twisty thriller will find this one unique and satisfying.

A gripping existential thriller in the vein of Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2006).

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60945-277-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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