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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Review: The Gigolo Murder, Mehmet Murat Somer (Turkey)

Title: The Gigolo Murder
Author: Mehmet Murat Somer
Translator: Kenneth Dakan
Publication: 2009/Penguin Books Ltd, England
Original Publication: 2003/Turkey (“Jigolo Cinayeti”)
ISBN #: 978-0-14-311629-5
# of pages: 255
Discovered at
Read in paper format
Also available in e-book format

When the cast of characters includes an unnamed transvestite who idolizes actor Audrey Hepburn, his wheelchair bound computer hacker rival, his friend the police bureau chief, a gay poet, and club girls named Dump Truck Beyza and Blackbrow Lulu, you know this will be a different type of mystery book.

This is a story of two worlds: transvestites and computer hackers, set in Istanbul. The protagonist is a hacker by day, a transvestite club owner by night and an amateur detective when an interesting mystery comes along. He is still recovering from a major heartbreak and has now fallen head over heels for handsome lawyer Haluk Pekerdem. He is not the least deterred by the man’s wife Canan, sitting right beside him in the club. While at the club, they learn that Canan’s stepbrother Faruk has been arrested for the murder of a minibus driver.
Hoping to get closer to Haluk, the hero decides to find out everything he can about the Pekerdems and the crime. He quickly learns from the club girls that the victim Volkan Sarıdoğan was a professional bisexual gigolo. This is only the beginning of a convoluted case.

The story is an interesting quirky look at the Turkish transvestite scene. There was a bit too much of this aspect and a bit too little of the mystery to make it a book that grabs the reader’s undivided attention. It is more of a summer beach book. Be sure to read the acknowledgements at the end! They run to four pages and are hilarious. The author admits to being inspired by awards ceremony winners and “Presented with the opportunity to compile my own list (of those who contributed), I have decided to milk it for all it’s worth”.  As quirky as the book, the list includes his late great-grandmother on his father’s side, authors such as Gore Vidal, composers as diverse as Handel and Cole Porter, Barbra Streisand pre-1980s and numerous actors for interesting reasons.
This book is part of a series, known in English as the Turkish Delight series. In Turkish, the author named it the Hop-Çiki-Yaya series. “Hop-Çiki-Yaya was a cheerleading chant from Turkish colleges in the early 1960s, and it came to be used in comedy shows to mean gays. If somebody was queenish, then they'd say 'Oh, he's Hop-Çiki-Yaya'. By the 70s, it wasn't being used anymore - so I brought it back." (from Wikipedia). Of the six other books, only two have been translated into English so far: The Prophet Murders, and The Kiss Murder.





  1. You've just added (yet again) to my TBR - this does sound refreshingly different and very funny, too. And very surprising, I suppose, given what I have seen or heard about Turkish literature so far.

  2. Enjoy! Which other Turkish authors have you read, Marina?

  3. Hi, Deb,

    I just picked up Hotel Bosphorous as my Turkey pick for the Global Reading Challenge. I hope to get to it in the next month.

  4. Great suggestion, Rebecca!! I just read a synopsis of the book; can't wait to read your review. And a female author!