“A Memento for Istanbul” by Ahmet Ümit

This article is also available in: Italiano

“A Memento for Istanbul” is one of the most beautiful detective stories ever written about this extraordinary city, able to involve both with its mystery and with its history

A Memento for Istanbul

Istanbul. A mysterious crime puts commissioner Nevzat Akman and his young collaborators to the test. The victim is found in the old part of the city, in front of the statue of Ataturk, holds an ancient coin in his hand and seems to indicate a precise direction. It is only the first in a series of ritual murders in historic places, each monument tied to an important figure from the past: seven monarchs, seven magnificent ancient places and one shocking truth. Thus begins a race against time, in search of skilled and elusive criminals. The key to the enigma lies in the past of one of the most mysterious cities in the world, and leads to an exciting historical journey from Byzantium to Istanbul, in which the fate of the victims will depend on the ability of the investigators to decipher that story, to retrace it through painful memories. , and to cross the soul of a multitude of characters: homeless drunks, unscrupulous powerful businessmen, corrupt lawyers and journalists, greedy archaeologists and idealistic citizens struggling to preserve Istanbul’s historic sites. Ümit delves into the psychology of characters, into the sacredness of love and friendship, and skilfully blends genre narrative with historical interludes. Between his lines we find his political vocation, the reference to the dark times of the recent past and the present, on every page the boundless love for his city. Until the final imperative: “A Memento for Istanbul”.

In search of the history of Istanbul

The book is a magnificent example of how history and thriller can be cleverly blended, truly managing to enrich the reader from a historical point of view while giving him an extremely compelling and well-constructed storyline. Each part of the book will in fact be based on a specific monarch decisive for the history of Istanbul, thus allowing us to get to know this city better from its origins; the first ruler met will in fact be Byzas, the legendary founder of Byzantium, thus providing us with the tools for a truly total immersion. As already mentioned in a previous article, the “historical center” of Istanbul (as well as ancient Constantinople) is de facto corresponding to today’s district of Fatih, and it is no coincidence that the vast majority of the events will take place here, thus giving us the possibility of truly familiar with an area that reminds most only of a nice holiday, but which is still pulsating with life today. In fact, all the protagonists were born and raised in these places, giving us an idea of what it really means to be a citizen of Istanbul and how the city, especially in recent decades, has really changed a lot and this both in terms of population and of architecture.


Not surprisingly, the real protagonist of the whole novel is absolutely ancient Constantinople, here depicted in all its facets and nuances, while it seems immediately evident how the plot, however splendid and full of twists, is the daughter of love and the desireto tell about Istanbul. In fact, in every single line of the book she emerges, making the murders and the mystery a way to keep the attention high and show the eyes where to look.

A joy for Istanbul lovers

I discovered the existence of the book thanks to Angela Gurgo Di Castelmenardo, founder of the Facebook group “Istanbul, falling in love with a city” and it is by no means a coincidence; the novel really turns out to be a wonderful gift for lovers of this extraordinary city. Of all the books I’ve read related to Istanbul, in fact, in none of these have I been able to immerse myself as much as in this one, to the point that I have relived the journey I made years ago; in fact, his magic penetrates every sentence and every comma, truly allowing the reader to return with his mind to those unique atmospheres full of history.

A Memento for Istanbul

In addition to this, the book is also a beautiful and compelling detective story, able to surprise again and again with brilliant and unexpected ideas, contributing to a truly beautiful and fascinating experience in any respect. If you liked Fatih, you can’t miss this title.

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