THE PROPHET MURDERS - Mehmet Murat Somer

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

THE PROPHET MURDERS is the first of six 'Hop-Ciki-Yaya' thrillers translated into English - written by engineer, banker and now management consultant Mehmet Murat Somer.  The book introduces the reader to a central protagonist who is nothing, if not slightly unexpected.  Our unnamed hero/heroine is referred to as abla throughout the book which means big sister (thanks to the handy little glossary included at the back of the book).  He/she is a well-known identity in the transvestite sub-culture in Turkey. The reason for the dual references to this character is that he/she is not adverse to dressing as a man or a woman, depending upon the circumstances.  So let's start referring to our protagonist as abla.  (Later books apparently reveal the real name).  

Abla is the first to wonder about the deaths of other transvestites - the girls, members of their community - tensions and troubles aside.  There has been one mysterious disappearance and when one of the girls is killed in a fire in very odd circumstances, her death is followed quickly by another dead body in a strange place.  Because the girls are part of the sub-culture it's unlikely that the police will be looking too hard, but abla and her friends are able to find the connection and identify a likely killer very quickly.  Finding proof is another matter.

The book is written in the first person - abla voices it totally, and whilst the investigation moves at a pace that would make a snail impatient, it wanders through the life and times of the Turkish transvestite community.  There are some humorous touches, although a large number of these are heavy handed, and there is a lot of detail about life in and around the transvestite scene.   Undoubtedly this is where THE PROPHET MURDERS shines - it provides real insight into a community that is going to be different for many of us - Turkish or not.  Through abla, the author reveals much about the differences within the transvestite community, the hierarchy of power, the older and younger girls.  There are also revelations about the sorts of attacks that the community can endure, whilst having a slightly sly dig at the perpetrator's of the abuse.

THE PROPHET MURDERS will probably not work for somebody who is looking for an investigation based book.  You are going to have to handle the slightly odd (maybe it just doesn't translate) humourous moments.  All of that being said, if you're looking for something very different then THE PROPHET MURDERS provides some insight into a world that is foreign in culture and foreign in lifestyle for many of us.

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Something's gone seriously wrong in Istanbul - a killer is on the loose, and transvestites are being murdered, the modus operandi becoming increasingly bizarre with each death. Our protagonist - fellow transvestite, nightclub owner and glamour puss extraordinaire downs her lipstick and ups the ante in the search for the religious nut. Not an easy task with the pressures of everyday life - investigations have to be slotted in between leg and chest waxes and rotating lovers. Luckily she's the perfect investigator: she knows everyone on the scene, her maitre d' is the biggest gossip in town, her web skills are rivaled only by the most nerdy computer geek and she's very, very persistent. As the killings accelerate, our girl struggles against the odds in her pursuit - after all, everyone knows that running in stilettos and a black leather cat-suit is hell ! Can she end the slaughter without breaking a nail? 

Review THE PROPHET MURDERS - Mehmet Murat Somer
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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