There are seven books in the series but only three have been translated so far. The tone is campy, but not overly so because our girl is serious and very real.
Another different taste of Turkey is from the perspective of a working woman in Istanbul. The novel is Hotel Bosphorus by Esmahan Aykol. But it is as unlike my working life as a doughnut compared to baklava. Kati Herschel is a German whose parents came to Turkey when the Nazis came to power. Her father was Jewish lawyer. She spent the first seven years of her life there before her parents returned home. She never felt at home in Germany, so she moved back to Istanbul and, after trying out several jobs, she opened the only crime bookstore in the city. She considers herself an İstanbullu despite the fact the fact that although she carries a Turkish passport and speaks excellent Turkish, the Turks consider her German. Her personal habits are quite un-Turkish in many ways: her friends consider her stingy because she offers them used teabags for tea, she walks rather than take a taxi, and turns lights off the minute she leaves the room. On the other hand, she is a smiley person and the Turks feels that that is really why she left Germany, because a cheerful person would feel out of place there.
Exchanging sweet for sour, we leave Turkey for Germany, where Jakob Arjouni introduces us to curmudgeonly private eye, Kemal Kayankaya. He is Kati’s polar opposite. He is Turkish, but he was raised in Germany, holds a German passport, speaks German fluently but not Turkish. Jakob has too much experience of German resentment against foreigners. In the 1960s, Germany was having an economic resurgence and needed workers. A guest-worker agreement was signed with Turkey in 1961; Turks became the largest group of immigrant workers, and rather than going back home after 10 or 15 years, the workers stayed. Many of these immigrants do not speak German and prejudice is rampant. Kemal has his own attitudes about the local populace, so there is a bit of tit-for-tat going on as he describes Germans and, on one occasion, American tourists with far-from-flattering candor.
In Happy Birthday, Turk!, Kemal Kayankaya is asked to investigate the death of a Turkish worker, Ahmed Hamul, who was murdered in the red-light district of Frankfurt. Ahmed's family has asked Kemal for help; they know the police won't work too hard on the case. Kemal doesn’t have much training, but in the end he does have what it takes–which is the ability to survive multiple serious beatings in the course of his days on the job. Reasonable health care is a boon for Kemal. Arjouni's books are quite popular in Germany; go figure! I liked this Kemal guy and have the next book in the series on tap: One Man, One Murder.
I did read The Black Book, by Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, after it was recommended in Arabesk. It took me a long time to get through and there are no words for my reading experience. I have been assured that I will get over it without help from pharmaceuticals.