The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer, Kenneth Dakan (Translator)
Bestsellers in Mehmet Murat Somer’s home country of Turkey and set to take the world by storm, the arrival of the Hop-Çiki-Yaya mysteries is cause for excitement (and lip gloss!) here in the United States. A male computer technician by day and a transvestite hostess of Istanbul’s most notorious nightclub by night, the unnamed heroine of The Kiss Murder is the most charming and hilarious sleuth to debut in recent memory. When Buse, one of the “girls”at her club, fears someone is after private letters from a former lover, she comes to her boss for help. The next day Buse is dead and our girl must find the murderers before they find her. Fortunately, she is well armed with beauty, wit, the wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, and expert Thai kickboxing skills. With a page-turning plot and an irresistibly charming protagonist, The Kiss Murder is sure to attract mystery lovers and nightlife mavens alike. (via Goodreads)
I was intrigued by the main character of this mystery: a transvestite amateur detective looking into crimes within her community.
First, I have a couple of issues:
Issue #1 – Somer isn’t a transvestite or transgendered. While obviously a writer doesn’t *have* to have first-hand knowledge of what they write about, I’m taking it on faith that he’s giving me an accurate portrayal of the cross-dressing and trans community in Turkey. It’s a tricky thing when writing outside yourself to get it right.
Issue #2 – The translation. In relation to the above, the concepts of cross-dressing and being transgendered are munged together and used semi-interchangeably in the novel. I wonder if this is a problem in the translation. In general, I found the writing choppy. In the case of dialogue, it weirdly felt like a bad dub, a problem I’m never encountered when reading.
On a story level:
Our narrator’s voice felt a little forced sometimes. Maybe I’m just not enough of a girl, but the continual swooning over fashion and hot-bodied men was tiring. The plot was okay, but the end seemed inevitable despite the main character’s actions. This was an okay book, it read quickly, but it wasn’t super-awesome.
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: December 30th 2008 (first published 2003)