cover image One Death to Die: A Kayankaya Mystery

One Death to Die: A Kayankaya Mystery

Jakob Arjouni. Fromm International, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88064-170-8

Proving that the classic hard-boiled PI plot can survive-and thrive-in an exotic setting, Arjouni continues his pungent series about the Turkish-German private detective Kemal Kayankaya (introduced in Happy Birthday, Turk!, 1993). Like his creator, Kayankaya is the son of Turkish guest workers and gets very little respect from his adopted country. Landlords in Frankfurt don't return his calls; immigration officers and cops treat him like dirt; he has a hard time getting a beer in a seedy bar. As he says of the local citizenry after a rich client mistakes him for an Asian, ""...they are `international' down to their Parisian underwear-but they're not able to recognize a Turk unless he's carrying a garbage can under his arm and leading a string of ten unwashed brats."" This particular client, an ""average shmuck from Frankfurt's West End"" named Weidenbusch, wants Kayankaya to find his missing Thai ladyfriend, who seems to have been kidnapped by gangsters preying on illegal aliens. Arjouni has plenty of twisty surprises in store. He also has a light touch for pithy description (""Charlie's head reminded me, to a regrettable degree, of a double helping of pork knuckles topped with a permed thatch of sauerkraut"") which, helped by poet Hollo's deft translation, adds considerably to our pleasure. (Mar.)