cover image An Evil Eye

An Evil Eye

Jason Goodwin, FSG/Sarah Crichton, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-11040-6

Edgar-winner Goodwin's masterful fourth mystery thriller set in Istanbul under the Ottoman Turks (after The Bellini Card) finds his series hero, the eunuch Yashim, attempting to navigate treacherous political shoals following the death of Sultan Mahmut II in 1840. International pressures heighten the uncertainty surrounding the empire's direction under Mahmut's youthful successor. In this tense climate, Yashim looks into the killing of an unknown man dumped in a Christian monastery's cistern. A flap of skin cut from the body bearing a death's-head brand, an item that someone tries to take from Yashim at gunpoint, may point to a Russian connection to the murder. While Goodwin excels at plotting, the book's main strength lies in the assured depiction of a nation restrained by a corrupt leadership far removed from the old traditions of transparency and justice. The details of how Yashim prepares meals may amuse Robert Parker fans. (Apr.)