Monday, 12 August 2013

Brother Kemal

Set in Frankfurt, the fifth Kemal Kayankaya novel, Brother Kemal, sees the private investigator hired for two separate cases.  First Kayankaya is employed by Valerie de Chavannes, a woman who comes from money, to find her missing 16-year-old daughter.  The second job is to provide protection to author Malik Rashid whilst at a local book fair from potential fanatics who disapprove of the content of his latest novel.  Although Kayankaya initially believes both cases to be uncomplicated, he is soon proved wrong with his presumptions potentially causing disastrous consequences.

I hadn't read any of the previous books in the Kemal Kayankaya series from Jakob Arjouni, and this posed no problem when reading Brother Kemal.  The only instance where I felt unprepared was at the point where I realised that Kayankaya is not one to abide by the rules of the law, which occurs early on in the novel.  Perhaps if I had read some of the previous novels I would have already expected this, but at the time Kayankaya's actions did come as a bit of a shock.
Instantly I was struck by the detail laden prose and analytical narrative style, with Ajourni leaving no room for assumptions (even if his characters make plenty of  them throughout the course of the book).  Although in no way does this impact on the pacing of the plot, which is continually engaging,  punctured with moments of violence that come quickly, almost out of the blue, but never read as obscene or gratuitous, and the touches of humour sprinkled throughout the novel.  These wry moments further emphasise just how self-confident Kemal is and adding to the overall structure of a complex and fascinating character.

After enjoying reading Brother Kemal, I find it a shame that this is the last novel from Jakob Arjourni, as he sadly died earlier this year.  However, I am going to seek out Jakob Arjouni's back catalogue, as I was really impressed by this last novel.

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