Tony's Reviews > Kismet

Kismet by Jakob Arjouni
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Nov 15, 10

bookshelves: translated-fiction, loanable
Read in January, 2010

The Kayankaya Quartet (of which this is the final book), was originally published in Germany between 1985 and 2001, the previous installments being Happy Birthday, Turk!, More Beer (which was previously released as And Still, Drink More), and One Man, One Murder. Set mainly in Frankfurt, they use the hardboiled detective genre to examine the changes underway in German culture, especially with regard to immigrants. Although private eye Kemal Kayankaya is the German-born son of Turkish guest workers, he comes across as a classic American PI: a guy whose smart mouth and streak of compassion lands him in plenty of trouble (and gets him roughed up quite a bit), and who wears weariness, cynicism, and disgust like beloved overcoat. His adventures often involve immigrants, and this one is no exception, as a Brazilian restaurateur asks him to help scare off a couple of weird gangsters demanding protection money. This small favor gets him entangled in the operations of a Croatian gang, an Albanian gang, and a young Bosnian girl whose mother is missing. The story is perfectly fine, quick paced, well translated, but for all that, feels somewhat stale. It's now been twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Kayankaya books are of the decade immediately after that (this last book is set in 1998, which is why the focus is on the Balkans). While they provide an interesting angle on Germany in the late '80s and '90s, they feel decidedly less relevant or fresh than when I originally read them. Still worth reading if you're interested in international crime fiction, and Germany in particular, but not vital.
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