Researching Crime Fiction in Istanbul by Barbara Nadel

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Hello! My name is Barbara Nadel and I have never blogged before. Lordy, what an admission in 2009! Am I, I hear your cry, a) a hundred and fifty years old, b) a recently revived catatonic or c) a hermit. Well, although none of the above actually apply to me, I guess I can be a little on the reclusive side from time to time. I live in the wilds of the north of England so I’m not exactly at the centre of the beaten track. That said though, I travel. I go home to London all the time and of course I spend as much time as I can in Turkey.

I write two crime fiction series. The Çetin İkmen books, which are set in modern Turkey and the Francis Hancock mysteries which are historical books set in 1940’s London. Çetin is a professional police officer, while Francis is an amateur sleuth whose actual job is that of an undertaker. They couldn’t be more different and it is this variety that I enjoy so much. Looking in detail at either a foreign or an historical context is a privilege that not many people have. I know that I am very fortunate.

In addition to the books I also pick up the odd bit of journalistic work which, back in April, included writing a travel piece for The Guardian. In view of the upcoming ban on smoking in public places that comes into force in Turkey on 19th July 2009, I was required to trawl around some of İstanbul’s many nargile (water pipe) salons. The result was an article entitled The Last Hookah (…/turkey-istanbul-hookah-sheesha) which gave an account of my travels as well as the opinions of those I met along the way.

Now in spite of being a long standing devotee of the nargile pipe (rose flavoured tobacco being my favourite), I know that smoking is bad for people. It gives you all sorts of ghastly diseases and people should not be encouraged to do it. However, I am also a total liberal as well. This means I think that people should be able to run nargile salons and smoke pipes, cigarettes or whatever if they want to. I basically believe in separate facilities for smokers and non-smokers. I wish the Turkish authorities well, but I don’t personally believe in prohibition. I am currently very interested to see what will happen in Portugal now that they have decriminalised all previously illegal drugs. Having worked in mental health services here in England and seen how devastating a criminal record on top of a major addiction can be for those affected, I will be watching developments in Lisbon closely.

Next week my latest Hancock book, SURE AND CERTAIN DEATH will be published and so I wait with bated breath for reviews. In the meantime my very demanding Persian cat needs feeding. The glamorous authorial life continues…

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