The Kiss Murder

Mehmet Murat Somer, Author , trans. from the Turkish by Kenneth James Dakan. Penguin $14 (245p) ISBN 978-0-14-311472-7

Istanbul provides an intriguing backdrop for Somer’s highly entertaining and occasionally over-the-top tale, the first in a six-volume series to be made available in the U.S., in which a namelesstransvestite nightclub owner turns detective after the murder of one of the club’s drag queens, a crime linked to a blackmail scheme involving letters and photos received from a powerful and conservative businessman. While the club’s performers fear their secret lives being made public and are outcasts to their families, the protagonist, who by night dresses like “that boyish beauty” Audrey Hepburn, fears no one. When the blackmailers target the nightclub owner, she turns for help to contacts in the gay and transvestite community, plus a gossipy bouncer and an adoring cab driver who fancies himself “the Istanbul version of Brad Pitt.” Melding broad humor with a sensitive look at gay life in Turkey, Somer has fashioned a complex protagonist who’s likable, intelligent, arrogant and, above all, a survivor. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
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