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1 Burnside Mystery- A to Z

The Snake Stone

by

The Snake Stone Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

The voice was low and rough and it came from behind as dusk fell.

“Hey, George.”

It was the hour of the evening prayer, when you could no longer distinguish between a black thread and a white one, in ordinary light. George pulled the paring knife from his belt and sliced it through the air as he turned. All over Istanbul, muezzins in their minarets threw back their heads and began to chant.

It was a good time to kick a man to death in the street.

The grainy ululations swept in sobbing waves across the Golden Horn, where the Greek oarsmen on the gliding caïques were lighting their lamps. The notes of prayer rolled over the European town at Pera, a few lights wavering against the black ridge of Pera Hill. They skimmed the Bosphorus to Üsküdar, a smudge of purple fading back into the blackness of the mountains; and from there, on the Asian side, the mosques on the waterline echoed them back.

A foot caught George in the small of his back. Georges arms went wide and he stumbled toward a man who had a long face as if he were sorrowing for something.

The sound swelled as muezzin after muezzin picked up the cry, weaving between the citys minarets the shimmer of a chant that expressed in a thousand ways the infirmity of man and the oneness of God.

After that the knife wasnt any good.

The call to prayer lasts about two and a half minutes, but for George it stopped sooner. The sad-faced man stooped and picked up the knife. It was very sharp, but its end was broken. It wasnt a knife for a fight. He threw it into the shadows.

When the men had gone, a yellow dog came cautiously out of a nearby doorway. A second dog slunk forward on its belly and crouched close by, whining hopefully. Its tail thumped the ground. The first dog gave a low growl and showed its teeth.

 

2

Maximilien Lefèvre leaned over the rail and plugged his cheroot into the surf which seethed from the ships hull. Seraglio Point was developing on the port bow, its trees still black and massy in the early light. As the ship rounded the point, revealing the Galata Tower on the heights of Pera, Lefèvre pulled a handkerchief from his sleeve to wipe his hands; his skin was clammy from the salt air.

He looked up at the walls of the sultans palace, patting the back of his neck with the handkerchief. There was an ancient column in the Fourth Court of the seraglio, topped by a Corinthian capital, which was sometimes visible from the sea, between the trees. It was the lingering relic of an acropolis that had stood there many centuries ago, when Byzantium was nothing but a colony of the Greeks: before it became a second Rome, before it became the navel of the world. Most people didnt know the column still existed; sometimes you saw it, sometimes not.

The ship heaved, and Lefèvre gave a grunt of satisfaction.

Slowly the Stamboul shore of the Golden Horn came into view, a procession of domes and minarets that surged forward, one by one, and then modestly retired. Below the domes, cascading down to the busy waterfront, the roofs of Istanbul were glowing red and orange in the first sunlight. This was the panorama that visitors always admired: Constantinople, Istanbul, city of patriarchs and sultans, the busy kaleidoscope of the gorgeous East, the pride of fifteen centuries.

The disappointment came later.

Lefèvre shrugged, lit another cheroot, and turned his attention to the deck. Four sailors in bare feet and dirty singlets were stooped by the anchor chain, awaiting their captains signal. Others were clawing up the sails overhead. The helmsman eased the ship to port, closing in on the shore and the countercurrent that would bring them to a stop. The captain raised his hand, the chain ran out with the sound of cannon fire, the anchor bit, and the ship heaved slowly back against the chain.

A boat was lowered, and Lefèvre descended into it after his trunk.

At the Pera landing stage, a young Greek sailor jumped ashore with a stick to push back the crowd of touts. With his other hand he gestured for a tip.

Lefèvre put a small coin into his hand and the young man spat.

“City moneys,” he said contemptuously. “City moneys very bad, Excellency.” He kept his hand out.

Lefèvre winked. “Piastres de Malta,” he said quietly.

“Oho!” The Greek squinted at the coin and his face brightened.

“Ve-ery good.” He redoubled his efforts with the touts. “These is robbers. You wants I finds you porter? Hotel? Very clean, Excellency.”

“No, thank you.”

“Bad mans here. You is first times in the city, Excellency?”

“No.” Lefèvre shook his head.

The men on the landing stage fell silent. Some of them began to turn away. A man was approaching across the planked walk in green slippers. He was of medium build, with a head of snowy white hair. His eyes were piercingly blue. He wore baggy blue trousers, an open shirt of faded red cotton.

“Doctor Lefèvre? Follow me, please.” Over his shoulder he said: “Your trunk will be taken care of.”

Lefèvre gave a shrug. “À la prochaine.”

“Adio, msieur,” the Greek sailor replied slowly.

 
 
Excerpted from The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin. Copyright © 2007 by Jason Goodwin. Published in October 2007 by Sarah Crichton Books, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374299354
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Goodwin, Jason
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Police
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Historical
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Action
Subject:
Adventure
Subject:
Action & Adventure
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Thrillers/Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
2
Publication Date:
20080930
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.2 x 1 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

The Snake Stone Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Farrar, Straus and Giroux - English 9780374299354 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Early 19th-century Istanbul's teeming mix of nationalities, religions and cultures comes alive in this vibrant sequel to the Edgar-winning The Janissary Tree (2006). When French archeologist Maximilien Lefvre begins asking very pointed, well-informed questions about long-lost Greek artifacts and then is found dead outside the French embassy, series hero Yashim, a Turkish eunuch, finds himself suspected of the murder. His efforts to clear his name take him from markets and wharves to palaces and underground tunnels as he uncovers a secret society, unearths sacred relics and hunts the murderer. Goodwin's secondary characters, particularly Yashim's close friend Stanislaw Palewski, the world-weary Polish ambassador, are distinct and memorable, and the mystery presents an entertaining challenge to the reader as well as to charming, determined Yashim. With his second effort as intricate and delightful as the first, Goodwin takes his rightful place among such distinguished British historical mystery writers as Lindsay Davis and the late Edith Pargeter." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Although Mr. Goodwin has a tendency to overcomplicate, he is able to link even the smallest-seeming developments to matters of major resonance."
"Review" by , "There are a few slow spots in the plot, but thats more than made up for by the host of intriguing characters."
"Review" by , "A mildly entertaining smoke-and-mirrors tale that teases more than it delivers."
"Synopsis" by ,
The captivating return of Yashim, the eunuch investigator from the intelligent, elliptical and beguilingly written" (The Times, London) bestseller The Janissary Tree

When a French archaeologist arrives in 1830s Istanbul determined to track down a lost Byzantine treasure, the local Greek communities are uncertain how to react; the man seems dangerously well informed. Yashim Togalu, who so brilliantly solved the mysterious murders in The Janissary Tree, is once again enlisted to investigate. But when the archaeologists mutilated body is discovered outside the French embassy, it turns out there is only one suspect: Yashim himself.

The New York Times celebrated The Janissary Tree as “the perfect escapist mystery,” and The Daily Telegraph called it “[A] tremendous first novel . . . Beautifully written, perfectly judged, humane, witty and captivating.”

 
With The Snake Stone, Jason Goodwin delights us with another transporting romp through the back streets of nineteenth-century Istanbul. Yashim finds himself racing against time once again, to uncover the startling truth behind a shadowy society dedicated to the revival of the Byzantine Empire, encountering along the way such vibrant characters as Lord Byrons doctor and the sultans West Indies-born mother, the Valide. Armed only with a unique sixteenth-century book, the dashing eunuch leads us into a world where the stakes are high, betrayal is death—and the pleasure to the reader is immense.

"Synopsis" by ,

Detective, polyglot, chef, eunuch--Investigator Yashim returns in this evocative Edgar® Award-winning series set in Istanbul at the end of the Ottoman Empire

Istanbul, 1838. In his palace on the Bosphorus, Sultan Mahmud II is dying and the city swirls with rumors and alarms. The unexpected arrival of a French archaeologist determined to track down lost Byzantine treasures throws the Greek community into confusion. Yashim Togalu is once again enlisted to investigate. But when the archaeologists mutilated body is discovered outside the French embassy, it turns out there is only one suspect: Yashim himself. As the body count starts to rise, Yashim must uncover the startling truth behind a shadowy society dedicated to the revival of the Byzantine Empire, encountering along the way such vibrant characters as Lord Byron's doctor and the Sultan's West Indies-born mother, the Valide. With striking wit and irresistible flair, Jason Goodwin takes us into a world where the stakes are high, betrayal is death--and the pleasure to the reader is immense.

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