An American teacher in 1957 Turkey becomes unwittingly entangled in murder and political unrest in this thriller.
When Anna Riddle gets a telegram from her brother-in-law pleading for help, she flies to Ankara, Turkey, without hesitation. She’s caring for her 8-year-old niece, Priscilla, while career diplomat Henry Burkhardt and Anna’s half sister, Mitzi, are on a Kenya safari. Watching Priscilla isn’t easy for childless Anna. But it turns altogether unnerving when the girl runs ahead at Atatürk’s Tomb and encounters a man Anna doesn’t know—who’s soon a gunshot victim. Bizarrely, the man’s gripping a letter Anna once wrote to her fiance, Rainer, presumed dead 12 years ago near the end of World War II. Detective Veli Yaziz is suspicious of Henry (the dead man wears one of the diplomat’s suits) and, by association, Anna. Yaziz’s boss, however, wants him to forgo the murder case in favor of thwarting an alleged plot against the Grand National Assembly. A discussion on that very scheme is what Meryem Alekci, a Romani, overhears while dancing at a retired general’s palace, putting her in danger. Anna, believing Rainer may be alive, is shocked by a potential second murder and a subsequent kidnapping. Star (Trouble in a Politically Correct Town, 2017, etc.) and Beatty’s (Hell Down Under, 2017, etc.) dense plot is rife with suspense, stemming primarily from Anna’s distrust of most people surrounding her. Even young Priscilla is dubious, since it’s clear she’s withholding information from her aunt. Anna’s motivation for investigating is plausible: she discovers further links to Rainer, as well as Henry and Mitzi, and catches quite a few lies from a range of culprits, including the authorities and the Burkhardts’ neighbors. Anna is also a resourceful protagonist who transcends individuals undermining her; Yaziz is certain she’s hiding something because she fails to become hysterical after seeing a body, “as he would expect most women to do.” Sharp perspectives from Anna, Meryem, and Yaziz make the myriad other characters alarmingly enigmatic and, as a result, any villains hard to define.
An elaborate but exhilarating mystery spotlighting an entirely capable heroine.