A naked teenage girl is found dead in the grounds of Yoros Castle in Turkey. She has apparently stabbed herself through the heart, but there is evidence of some strange sexual practices. Someone is convincing young people in Istanbul to participate in what they believe are sex orgies, only to murder them. Inspector Mehmet Suleyman draws this conclusion while investigating another incident involving a teenage boy, although one death seems to be a suicide.
Inspector Çetin İkmen has made several visits to a friend, local magician Max Esterhazy, for information about a strange obscene symbol someone has been painting on the walls of religious sites. His investigation seems to indicate some connection with Suleyman’s case. Then Max disappears, and blood is found splattered around his study.
Suleyman is having his own problems. His wife has left him for a visit to Ireland, taking their infant son. His unfaithfulness has broken them up, and he has been exposed to the HIV virus through an affair with a prostitute.
Soon another girl is killed, and Suleyman and Ikmen find links to the city’s goth clubs and possibly to Satanism.
I find Nadel’s mysteries set in Istanbul interesting because they often provide fascinating insights into the city’s subcultures.
Barbara Nadel’s Turkish mystery novels are interesting because they usually involve one of the many minorities of Istanbul. Dance with Death takes place in the fascinating region of Cappodocia rather than in Istanbul, though. Inspector Çetin İkmen gets a call from his cousin asking him to come to Cappodocia. A body has been found in a cave, and his cousin believes it may be that of a girl with whom he was in love years ago. This girl, who was rambling around the Europe and then Turkey on vacation, simply disappeared, and he thought she had left him.
In the meantime, his colleague Mehmet Süleyman is still in Istanbul trying to catch an attacker of homosexuals.
Nadel’s Turkish mysteries are filled with detail about place and customs that I find irresistable. I almost always guess the killer fairly early, but sometimes this is my test of a mystery. If I still find it interesting even when I guess the solution, then it is worth reading. Dance with Death is full of the color of that mysterious region, and İkmen and Süleyman are sympathetic and interesting characters.
Except for one thing. A theme of men’s unfaithfulness runs through the books. Both Inspector İkmenand Süleyman have been unfaithful, even though they love their wives. I’m not sure if that is meant to indicate something cultural or not.