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Belshazzar's Daughter: A Novel of Istanbul (Inspector Ikmen #1)

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  761 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
When a brutal murder shocks Istanbul's rundown Jewish quarter, the Turkish police force unleashes their best weapon - the chain-smoking, brandy-swilling Inspector Cetin Ikmen, husband to a strict Muslim woman (who disapproves of his drinking) and loving father of eight (with another on the way). With such a colorful personality and unrivaled investigative powers, Ikmen wil ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published February 21st 2004 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
A wonderful mystery/police procedural set in Turkey. (Hard to believe this is the first in the series.) I really hope I can find the rest in the series.

Cetin Ikmen is a very jaded police inspector who has a serious alcohol and nicotine addiction. He is Muslim (ostensibly) and is married to a very devout Muslim and has more than a dozen children. With all these faults... I love him!

The story features a brutal murder with overtones of anti-Semitism. I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to f
Okay, folks, I am a former librarian. I read books, I lend books, I donate books to the local library, I keep books, etc. Not many people feel about books as I do. That said, now I must confess I threw this book in the garbage after reading it. I knew at that moment that I would not, could not suggest it to anyone I know, and neither would I wish it on anyone at the local library. When someone throws Czar Nicholas and his family into the story, late in the story, with the old fairy tale of a sur ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
May 13, 2011 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was afraid it would be a bit of a cozy. Nadel does not shy away from descriptions of graphic violence and gratuitous sex, a much grittier book than expected. If you are looking for a book that will get you excited about vacationing in Turkey this would not be the best choice. Nadel explores the seedier side of Istanbul and introduces the world to yet another great detective Inspector Cetin Ikmen. The Inspector dabbles in mysticism, drinks too much, has ...more
Oct 09, 2008 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is based in Istanbul, and follows in the footsteps of Inspector Cetin Ikmen and his Sergeant Mehmet Suleyman as they try to solve the mystery of an old Jewish man who has been murdered in a most horrific way. The twists and turns include interviewing an old Russian woman who never seems to leave her bed, and a fairly dramatic conclusion.

OK, but is the book any good? When I was about two-thirds of the way through, I would have said "No". The book starts off well, and brings the reader
Belshazzar's Daughter is the first book in a series featuring inspector Cetin Ikmen of the Istanbul Police force, and the first novel written by Barbara Nadel. In this case, Ikmen has to deal with the nasty murder of an old man in what appears to be an anti-Semitic crime. Things soon become much more complicated, as details of a long-ago crime muddy the water.

First of all, what to like about this story - well, the characterizations of Ikmen, his family and his work colleagues are very well drawn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2012 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
The unorthodox Inspector Çetin Ikmen of the Istanbul police force investigates a gruesome murder in the city’s Jewish quarter. That, taken alone, sounds like an unusual and interesting premise, in theory. In practice, things rarely work out so well.

The plot of Belshazzar’s Daughter is, by itself (appropriately) Byzantine in its complexity and ruthlessly draws the reader along. But the characters are, with the exceptions of the jolly Armenian Medical Examiner and Ikmen’s grumpy father, all either
Aug 13, 2013 okyrhoe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A disappointing read.
Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, has such a rich history that I felt it was a cop-out to base the story (esp. given that it's the first book in the series) on "foreign" characters - that is, not the usual Istanbullu residents. Instead of Turks, or other ethnic peoples "native" to the former Ottoman empire, the plot features Russian émigrés, British language instructors, former Bolsheviks and Nazis. Even the supposedly "local" Jewish characters' names in the novel are not
Dec 07, 2009 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep books on hand to reward myself for doing things I must do and don't want to do. This was one such book. I had started with the second in the series, and now I wanted to read the first book, Belshazzar's Daughter. Within the first pages, oh man, she hooked me.

Inspector Ikmen and his ever-pregnant wife Fatima, who he adores, Suleyman, his right hand man, Cohen, the Jewish Turkish playboy . . . Nadel weaves her story around their lives and characters as much as about the mysteries they are
Nov 10, 2012 Katherine rated it did not like it
No, sir, I didn't like it. I took this out of the library and by about 50 pages in I was sure I'd tried to read it before. I decided to finish it this time because I didn't want to repeat the cycle a second time. May as well finish it. Flat, cliched characters. No sense of place. Stupid premise involving the possible survival of a Romanov brat. (When are we gonna shelve that?) Irritating woman with a non-consensual gun kink. Spineless, misogynistic character whose backstory comes way to late to ...more

The cover art's beautiful, and I liked the idea of "visiting" the exotic Istanbul setting. It turns out, though, that Istanbul's back alleys are too gritty to make a nice vacation even filtered through the pages of a mystery novel. The graphic violence near the beginning turned me off, but was expected in this kind of book, so I kept reading--but there's no real break in the oppressive environment of a seedy, unpleasant place where most people are exploiting everyone else around them for one
Jul 12, 2014 Sydney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed. This book was recommended by a bookseller in Istanbul with whom I had had a nice chat (in English). I really trusted his judgment. And apparently the books by this writer are very popular with English-speaking readers of Istanbul. I like the detectives, but few of the other characters. I thought the plot was predictable — and dragging in one of the Great Mysteries of the 20th century seemed totally manipulative. (I should have been wary of the endorsement "The Donna Leon of I ...more
Carolyn Mck
This was my second novel for the week set in Turkey. Very different, though, from The Secret Son (J Ackland), as this was detective fiction and set entirely in Istanbul. I often enjoy crime novels as much for their settings as for the story and this was no exception. I haven't been to Istanbul, but Nadel wrote so well about this city that I could well imagine it.

This is the first of the Inspector Ikmen mysteries and introduces the reader to this brandy drinking, chain smoking, dishevelled and d
Pat K
Jan 10, 2016 Pat K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I couldn't finish this book. The story had great potential, really good idea. Had the author concentrated a little more on the story rather than over describing the characters it would have been a passable book. The writing is pretentious and full of silly metaphors and dense with exaggerated descriptions. The book is 448 pages long. If it had lost 100 or more pages it would probably have been worth finishing.
Bev Taylor
Feb 12, 2016 Bev Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
features inspector ikmen, a man with a love of cigarettes and brandy. how does he afford it on police salary?

an elderly man is found murdered in istanbul in a very poor jewish quarter. hacked to death with also the use of sulphuric acid., a swastika is daubed on the wall with his blood. is this race related?

add to this the discovery of 10k ion lira in his flat - not stolen

u have robert, an english language teacher and smits a half german business man known as a nazi sympathiser

clues lead the
Anders Hanson
Having first discovered Barbara Nadel last year through the first of her Hakim and Arnold books, I was keen to read the first of her Inspector Ikmen stories. As someone who has always been intrigued by Istanbul and a lover of the Donna Leon books set in Venice (with whom Nadel is often compared) I was looking forward to this book.

The story that unfolds in this book is intriguing but a little far fetched, yet Nadel is able to write in a way that makes you want to keep reading. There are many poss
Jun 27, 2011 Marcy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a DNF for me. A murder takes place in the old Jewish quarter of Istanbul and Inspector Ikmen, a complex character with many failings, is on the case. I didn't much care for the plot and abandoned it after 135 pages as the story became just too weird.
Susan Medsker-Nedderman
I received this book and the next two in the series as Christmas gifts. This book was an OK read. I agree with other reviewers that it bogged down in the middle. I didn't like very many of the characters (I suppose that's a tribute to the writer, that they were written well enough to be unlikable), including the police detective. The book was grittier than I usually like, although I really like the C. J. Box books, and they are pretty gritty, too. I was interested through the ending, even though ...more
Mike Bull
Feb 03, 2014 Mike Bull rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this murder mystery novel set in Istanbul are unforgettable. From inspector ikmen to the family he investigates, the Englishman, his assistant detective, his wife and father--everyone in this book is drawn so well you get pulled right into it.

Although it's a murder mystery this novel has something for everyone in it. Lust, love, brutality, shame, reticence, family relationships, hidden motives and dark histories. It's coarse in places but at the same time it's human throughout.
SIgh. I thought, despite the very gory murder, that this was a promising series. I was put off by the slow pace (not much progess on the mystery 1/2 way through), gratutitious sex, and skanky characters. Gave up 1/2 way.
This book was just OK. I figured out the outlandish ending about half-way through, and honestly found it a bit hokey. It also didn't really make me feel like I know anything more about Istanbul than when I started.
Nov 05, 2009 Natalie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing book. I wish the author would have kept to the solving of the mystery rather than the nauseating description of sex between a prostitute and her ignorant lover. No redeeming ending, either.
Aug 13, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-site
Even reading this on several Bosphorus commuter ferries couldn't redeem it: just preposterous. I am curious to see Yildiniz Park now, though. Wink.
Belshazzar's Daughter by Barbara Nadel. This is the first book I've read by this author, and I enjoyed it. It is set not too far in the past but refers to the period of the Russian Revolution and things that happened afterwards. Also much through the eyes of an English ex-pat with a bit of past and having trouble keeping it all together. The main character is a very interesting and quite likable Turkish police head of investigations and much of his family in this city. All told, it's a very good ...more
Reetta Saine
Jul 24, 2011 Reetta Saine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dekkarit
Viimeinkin yksi Suuri Suosikkini, Barbara Nadel, on päässyt kotimaisten kustantamojen julkaisuohjelmaan - iso peukku laadukkaalle Moreenille!

Yli kymmenen dekkarin sarjan aloittava Belsassarin tytär tekee hyvää työtä esitellessään ketjupolttavan brandynlitkijän, komisario Ikmenin ja muut sarjan olennaiset henkilöt. Avioliitto hurskaan muslimin kanssa, lähemmäs kymmenen lasta ja siivon alaisen Suleimanin kouluttaminen tavoille luovat rikkaan taustan, johon kunkin kirjan rikos sijoitetaan. Nadelin
Sep 21, 2011 Anette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently fallen in love with Istanbul, I was very excited to read this book. Especially since murder mysteries are my favourite type of genre.

Police Inspector Aetin Ikmen, alcoholic, chain-smoking, but somehow endearing, looks into the brutal murder and disfigurement of an aged Jewish immigrant that appears to have neo-Nazi implications. With his youthful colleague Mehmet Suleyman in tow, Ikmen leads us through the back alleys, brothels and barrooms of the city's roughest neighborhoods in
Cheryl A
Trying to broaden my mystery reading horizons, I picked up this novel set in modern Turkey, featuring Inspector Cetin Ikmen, husband and father of eight, sole supporter of his aged father. My initial thoughts were that the Inspector would be a well grounded, caring man with a passion for truth and justice.

I was right and wrong at the same time.

Ikmen is a chain-smoking, brandy toting, apolitical, irreligious, slightly egotistical man who is not without redeeming characteristics. His Sergeant, Meh
I am torn. Thumbs down? Thumbs up?

Sordid, steamy, tawdry . . . in the end, an over the top, operatic finale. Some pretty kinky sex that seems to explain one of the main actor's twisted psyche, but in the end seems gratuitous to this reader. Swastikas. Pedophilia. Incest. Unattractive characters who are very hard to like.

As well, an off-putting introduction to Detective Ikmen--a Turkish cop who has to swill brandy at the scene of the crime, or I guess become too faint of heart to proceed with h
Feb 26, 2010 Spuddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 Cetin Ikmen mystery set in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. Inspector Ikmen is unlike any other sleuth I've come across so far in some ways--(mostly) happily married, father of eight, dedicated to his work. And yet in other ways, he resembles favored inspectors everywhere--a bit rebellious and unconventional in his methods, maneuvering around his mostly incompetent or politically motivated bosses, and able to ferret out the subtle clues to find justice for the murdered.

Chain-smoking, brandy-drin
Candy Wood
The exotic setting of this murder mystery is promising: Istanbul, with not only a hard-drinking, chain-smoking detective inspector who happens to be the father of nine children by the same wife but also a young, handsome sergeant, trying to evade his mother's plans for his marriage. The gruesome murder might be a hate crime against Jews, and the suspects include an Englishman who teaches in a language school, a wealthy German businessman who was a Nazi sympathizer, and a very strange family whos ...more
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Barbara Nadel is an English crime-writer. Many of her books are set in Turkey. Born in the East End of London, Barbara Nadel trained as an actress before becoming a writer. Now writing full-time, she has previously worked as a public relations officer for the National Schizophrenia Fellowship's Good Companion Service and as a mental health advocate for the mentally disordered in a psychiatric hosp ...more
More about Barbara Nadel...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Ikmen (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Ottoman Cage (Inspector Ikmen, #2)
  • Arabesk (Cetin Ikmen, #3)
  • Deep Waters (Cetin Ikmen, #4)
  • Harem (Cetin Ikmen, #5)
  • Petrified (Cetin Ikmen, #6)
  • Deadly Web (Cetin Ikmen, #7)
  • Dance with Death (Cetin Ikmen, #8)
  • A Passion for Killing (Cetin Ikmen, #9)
  • Pretty Dead Things (Cetin Ikmen, #10)
  • River of the Dead (Cetin Ikmen, #11)

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