The Gigolo Murder – Mehmet Murat Somer (Penguin Books)

Buy it now at Giovanni’s Room or at Amazon through The Dreamwalker Group.

Who says a nice, light read has to rely on stock characters, stale situations and the same old places? If you’re tired of buff sleuths who work out solutions while they work out at the gym or San Francisco de-twink-tives, give Mehmet Murat Somer’s Turkish Delight series a try. The second (and latest) installment, The Gigolo Murder, is a hot little kick in the harem pants.

Our nameless detective is a software programmer by day and a drag queen club hostess by night. She is fixated on Audrey Hepburn, especially her My Fair Lady period, and as the book opens, she is depressed over a breakup with her boyfriend. Her best friend, Ponpon, oversees her recovery and return to the drag club, where she meets handsome, married, straight lawyer Haluk Pekerdem.

Their meeting, however, is interrupted by the news that Pekerdem’s (I love typing that name) brother-in-law has been arrested for the murder of Volkan Saridogan, a notorious gigolo and minibus driver. Will our detective be able to solve the murder without using her Thai kickboxing skills? Will she recover from the breakup? Will she score the straight married lawyer? And what about the mysterious assignment she gets from her boss that requires her hacking into Turkey’s central telephone system? I’ll never tell.

Not only are the characters interesting, but their quirks are used to great effect in moving the plot along. The mystery is engaging and Somer has a sharp eye for the well-placed bit of Turkish culture, enriching the book instead of distracting from it. In addition to some laugh-out-loud funny exchanges, there are moments of true tension, especially as our detective finds out just where her computer has led her. And at about 250 pages, it’s a book that doesn’t overstay its welcome – good for a short plane hop and a cab ride to your hotel. So for a good time, call up The Gigolo Murder.

And don’t forget the hookah

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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