THE JANISSARY TREE (Historical-Turkey-1836) – VG
Goodwin, Jason – 1st novel
Sarah Crichton Books, 2006- US Hardcover – ISBN 0374178607

The Ottoman Empire is coming to an end and Sultan recognizes they must move into modern times. But gruesome murders, with clues leading back to the brutal days of the Janissaries, are threatening the peace and Turkish eunuch Yashim Togalu is employed to find the killer.

Goodwin does a marvelous job of bring this period and setting to life. Although I’d have liked a bit more character development, Yashim, his friends the Polish Ambassador, the transvestite dancer, her landlady, the grocer, and more are wonderful characters about whom I want to know more. The scene with the Russian ambassador’s wife disavows one’s usual perceptions of a eunuch. Goodwin’s skill for sense of time and place, as well as building suspense, is what made this a stand-out read for me. I shall definitely be looking for the next book in this series.

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