Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for February 18th, 2015

The Bellini Card (Investigator Yashim Goes to Venice)

Posted by nliakos on February 18, 2015

by Jason Goodwin

Armed with my new-found knowledge about the Ottoman Empire, I dove into the third (and for me, last, as I have already read #4-5) Yashim novel. As the subtitle says, very little of the story is actually set in Constantinople; Count Palewski goes to Venice at Yashim’s behest in search of a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror painted by Gentile Bellini, which is rumored to have resurfaced in that city. (The portrait actually exists and is the frontispiece of Lords of the Horizons. You can see it in this Wikipedia article on Mehmet II.)  Yashim himself does not actually turn up in Venice (in disguise) until Chapter 49, just in time to rescue a pretty woman; and although this appears to be his first trip to Venice, he already seems to know his way around pretty well, or maybe it’s just that he possesses some special powers which enable him to do impossible things (like the heroes of animé). And of course he speaks multiple languages (including, here, Armenian).  But it’s hard not to like Yashim; he’s such a delightful fellow. For the remainder of the book, he goes around saving people’s lives (including his own, twice); as usual, I did not really understand the details, but I enjoyed the telling of them. And even in Venice, Yashim manages to find the opportunity to cook (but rarely to eat).

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