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Belshazzar's Daughter

(Inspector Ikmen #1)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Tourist brochures present Istanbul as a glamorous, modern city, but the brochures don't make much mention of Balat, a decrepit neighborhood of narrow, twisting alleys and crumbling tenements. Until recently it was home to Leonid Meyer, a reclusive elderly Jew who, like many of his neighbors, came here long ago to escape one of Europe's various bloodbaths. But Meyer's refug ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Felony & Mayhem (first published June 3rd 1999)
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3.50  · 
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 ·  1,024 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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May 28, 2008 added it
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 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery set in Istanbul has a powerful start, but the plot becomes increasingly far-fetched, with a ludicrous final twist. There are some over-the-top sex scenes thrown in and I found some of these offensive, especially those involving the main female character, Natalia. This author has a very readable writing style and her detective, Cetin Ikmen, is an interesting character, but it's not enough to save the book - I'm not quite sure why I read to the end and I won't be going on with the ser ...more
Sep 09, 2008 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
Jul 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Belshazzar’s Daughter is the first book featuring Inspector Cetin Ikmen, and is set in modern day Istanbul, Turkey. Ikmen's wife Is pregnant with their ninth child, his elderly father lives with them, and he's just been called to the scene of a horrific crime. An elderly Jewish man has been tortured and murdered and it appears that a bloody swastika has been drawn on the wall with the victim's blood.

Ikmen is a strange character in that he works slowly and meticulously, reconstructing each victim
Carlos Santos
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really interesting who done it with a very surprising ending. A truly authentic detective story with a fresh portrayal of all characters especially the brilliant Inspector Ikmen of the Turkish police. At every step of the way i felt i was side by side with each character on the streets of Turkey. Now I am truly hooked and will be hunting for the next books in the series!
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 eithe
Nov 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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 rated it it was ok
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
Pat K
May 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Helen Frances
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my third reading of this book. I have read about six in the series and I really enjoy them. The books are set in Istanbul and make a change from the usual English and American settings. Highly recommended. 4th read, August 2018.
Lau Maia
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
I don't usually enjoy mysteries and this one was probably the case. I don't even remember it after reading the description.
Jun 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Sally Edsall
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, fiction, turkey
Nadel has written an excellent police procedural, and introduced an engaging cast of regular characters in this first Inspector Ikmen book.

More than that, she writes evocatively of Istanbul - its physical nature and social life, and the diverse people who make it their home - from 500 years of Jewish descent seeking asylum to latter day English language teachers looking for refuge in their own way.

I have lived in Istanbul myself amongst the foreign teacher expat community, and Nadel has captured
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, not great

As the first book in a series, this is promising. The main characters are established and interesting. For much of the book, the story was interesting as well. I found the ending rather disjointed and abrupt, however, and offered little surprise. To avoid spoilers I will refrain from specifics, but the crime committed by Robert Cornelius seems a forced plot point, random and awkwardly plotted, and not really necessary to the story. I'm also left with questions about a big hole in
Nancy Goldberg Wilks
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leonid Meyer, an elderly Jewish Russian refugee, had been tortured and murdered in his home in the Balat area of Istanbul. A swastika, drawn using Meyer’s blood, was left on the wall above his body. Officials are concerned that the murder is evidence of rampant racism in Istanbul, but Inspector Cetin Ikmen is not so sure. As he and his sergeant, Suleyman, investigate, they uncover a complex history of Russian immigrants, German Nazis, and secrets worthy of murder.

Belshazzar’s Daughter is the f
Mary Orchard
May 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Poor. Having just finished a brilliant historical fiction book set in Constantinople, I had an itch for more Istanbul and reached for Nadel's detective novels for the simple reason of their location. Alas. Aside from the name dropping of a district or two, there was very little effort made to evoke the setting. I might have forgiven it had the plot been any good, but it's not. The twist, if you want to call it that, is visible from a mile away and unsatisfactory. The writing is at times quite go ...more
Although I read this only 6 weeks ago, I have forgotten too much to write about it. I finished it so I could pass it on to Rhonda, to whet her appetite for visiting Turkey.

Like number 4 in the series, which I read several years ago, a great many characters are non-Turks. Which is fine. And shows you some things about the city of Istanbul and some of its different neighborhoods and ethnic groups.

Like most mysteries, it wouldn't be so interesting to read a second time because you already know what
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book with its setting in Istanbul featuring police Inspector Cetin Ikmen. Many authors begin their story with a short vignette to draw readers in. The book starts with a description of the scene of a particularly horrific murder and then moves to an introduction to the detective who smokes 50 cigarettes a day and swigs brandy incessantly, even when interrogating witnesses. I am not sure what sort of readers the author was trying to draw in but it was clear that I am not one ...more
Jelena Milašinović
A fascinating mystery with interesting protagonists. I loved how the author weaved the story connecting all the threads of the various protagonist's tales together. I loved the insight into Turkish society during the 90s and the police officers where fascinating to read. I also liked that the police officers where likable and quirky and that you could easily bond with them, or at least find something that would make you care about them along with the other characters. Looking forward to the next ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would have given this a five star rating except that it was too long, needed some cutting. Otherwise, it's an excellent, exciting, riveting mystery with some unforgettable characters and an appreciation of the importance of place and cultural pressures. Parts of the plot were a bit overdone and squeezed for effect, but in the end, the character of the hero outshines any weakness. I look forward to reading more by the same author.
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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

Other books in the series

Inspector Ikmen (1 - 10 of 20 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)
“Cohen was so shallow it was almost a talent.” 0 likes
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