Review of Blood Business by Barbara Nadel

Sharing is caring!

Get your copy of Blood Business today.

I’ve been reading Barbara Nadel’s Çetin Ikmen detective series for many years now, and I always enjoy the way she combines aspects of Istanbul history, both past and present, with gritty crime stories. However the city she writes about isn’t the same as the real life one I inhabit, it’s a fictionalised version. Some Istanbul residents I’ve had conversations with take issue with this because they expect Nadel to write about Istanbul as it is, as they know it, but she didn’t set out to write a profile or a city guide. Her aim was to write crime novels set in Istanbul and she has been very successful at this, because she combines a mixture of truths and realities that appeal due to their universal themes. The relationship between Ikmen and his wife with its friction and passion, questions of privilege and challenges to the status quo played out in the character of Mehmet Süleyman, women as wife, lover, colleague and so on in the characters of Cicek (Ikmen’s daughter) Sergeant Ayşe Farsakoğlu, Gonca Şekeroğlu, a Roma woman with mystical powers and Süleyman’s sometime lover, and ethnic and other differences represented by characters such as Balthazar Cohen, Arto Sarkissian, Turgt Zana and Kerim Gürsel.

In her latest novel, Blood Business, Nadel tackles the topic of illegal organ trafficking within the context of the enormous movement of displaced people around the world. Turkey currently hosts four million refugees and asylum seekers, the vast majority of them from Syria and the largest number living in Istanbul. Blood Business begins with a woman’s body being exhumed from her grave in an enormous cemetery called Karacaahmet in Uksudar, on the Asian side of the city. It’s being done at the request of one of her sons who wants a DNA test performed so he can challenge her will. It limits him to a set allowance overseen by his brother who has control of the family company. When the grave is opened to reveal the body of a women who isn’t their mother, with her heart missing, the police, led by Mehmet Süleyman, descend on the graveyard. He soon calls on the expertise and connections of Ikmen, now retired.

Nadel uses the age old idea of sibling rivalry to explore what happens when the rich are so wealthy they can buy anything they need in a world where civil war, climate change and other upheaval have created a new class of poor who are so destitute and desperate, they’ll part with anything, even body parts. What loss is a kidney or even an eye if it pays their way to a safe haven? Unless of course they’re never paid and die from the operation.

In Blood Business Nadel continues her tradition of featuring minority and alternative communities whether as victims or perpetrators, caught up in criminal activities that take place in Istanbul. While for some the Istanbul she conjures is a simulacrum, the emotions, disappointments and dreams of her characters are very real, and therein lies the ongoing appeal of the Cetin Ikmen series.

Title: Blood Business
Publisher: Headline Publishing
Date: 2020
ISBN: 9781472254863

Similar Posts


  1. Thank you for introducing me to a new writer. I shall order this book immediately. It sounds like something I’d enjoy and as I love Istanbul and love reading about all things Turkish, I’m sure I will like it.

    1. I’m glad my review has encouraged you to read a new author. If you like this book I think you’ll enjoy the rest of the books in the series too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.