Friday, July 21, 2006

The Janissary Tree

TGIF! Some weeks seem to fly by, and others seem like they will never end. I guess I just need a weekend. Not that we have much planned, just some grocery shopping and downtime. I think it's the downtime I need most. Molly's having a combine birthday party with her two friends Lindsey and Nicki, but all seven girls will be at Lindsey's for a sleepover. I'll be praying for Lindsey's mom!

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin is a multi-layered, well-written mystery taking place in the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century. Yashmin is a eunuch who has been requested to look into the murder of a harem girl, the theft of the sultan's mother's jewels, and the disappearances of four soldiers, and he has ten days to find the answers to all three crimes. Yashmin is an intriguing character, but the reader never really gets into his head. While the book is fascinating with its information about the running of a harem and the creation of eunuchs, there is a dearth of description on other details. I'm not familiar with life in the Ottoman Empire of the 1830s, so I would have like more detail about the style of clothing and architecture so I can visualize the scenes. There are places where Goodwin has almost a sense of poetry in his writing, but it doesn't add to the visualization. The conclusion of the case is so twisted in politics, history, revenge, and manipulation, it's hard to see how it all worked together, but perhaps that's part of the mystery. It seems that this book is to be the first in a series starring Inspector Yashmin; I think I'll check out the next one, just to see if Goodwin adds more detail.

I'm currently reading Condensed Knowledge by Mental_Floss. I'm not sure if I'm enjoying it or not, never a good sign. I've also finally started Climbing Brandon, but Chet Raymo writes so intellectually, I feel like I have to read it in sips, because I can only process so much at a time.

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