I’ve been reading along in the Yashim series ever since The Janissary Tree (2007) and have to say that so far, The Janissary Tree is far and away the best of the lot, but the books which followed are all well worth reading (except I’ve not read The Baklava Club – 2014). I procrastinated with An Evil Eye for some reason – there are some series I just can’t gobble down all at once – but for some reason the time was finally right.
The series features a eunuch, Yashim, who plays very skilled and thoughtful detective for the Sultan or others during the 1830s when the Ottoman Empire was just beginning its slow crumble. Most of the action takes place in Istanbul.
An Evil Eye opens in 1836 with a fire to a the Yali and a pasha running away carrying a package.
Move to 1839 when the 16-year old Abdülmecid I replaced his deceased father, Mahmud II. He brought his own harem and there are many power struggles involved in that move and then a little girl shows up in the harem quarters.
But a dead body has been found in a well and it turns out that a tattoo reveals the victim is connected to Russia. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Fleet has been released to Egypt by Yashim’s enemy, Fevzi Ahmed. It all gets quite complicated with harem struggles, personal issues and international relations – a bit too complex perhaps.
Goodwin is a respected historian of the era and his books are chock full of accurate detail and ambiance.