Happy Birthday, Turk! (Kemal Kayankaya Series #1)

Happy Birthday, Turk! (Kemal Kayankaya Series #1)

2.5 2
by Jakob Arjouni

View All Available Formats & Editions

“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.”
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review


When a Turkish laborer is stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, the local polcie see no need to work overtime. But when the laborer's wife


“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.”
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review


When a Turkish laborer is stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, the local polcie see no need to work overtime. But when the laborer's wife comes to him for help, wise-cracking detective Kemal Kayankaya, a Turkish immigrant himself, smells a rat. The dead man wasn't the kind of guy who spent time with prostitutes. What gives? The deeper he digs, the more Kayankaya finds that the vitim was a good guy, a poor immigrant just trying to look out for his family. So who wanted him dead, and why? On the way to find out, Kayankaya has run-ins with prostitutes and drug addicts, gets beaten up by anonymous thugs, survives a gas attack, and suffers several close encounters with a Fiat.

And then there's the police cover-up he stumbles upon ...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Happy Birthday, Turk!
“The greatest German mystery since World War II.” —Süddeutsche (Germany)

Praise for Kismet
“As winning a noirish gumshoe as has swooped onto the mystery scene in some time.” —Richard Lipez, The Washington Post
“In the emphasis on action and quck-jab dialogue, readers will notice an echo of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, but Arjouni’s stories also brim with the absurd humor that made The Sopranos so entertaining.” —Vikas Turakhia, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“Jakob Arjouni’s downbeat detective Kemel Kayankaya has proved as enigmatic as Columbo, as erudite as Marlowe and occasionally, as crazed as Hammett’s Continental Op . . . Arjouni forges both a gripping caper and a haunting indictment of the madness of nationalism, illuminated by brilliant use of language: magnificent.” —The Guardian
“This lively, gripping book sets a high standard for the crime novel as the best of modern literature.” —The Independent 
“With its snappy dialogue and rumpled heroes, Arjouni’s crime fiction owes an obvious debt to American noir but it is equally reminiscent of many Eastern European satirical novels.  The plot of Kismet may recall any number of gangster romps, but the society so caustically depicted here is as recognizable as that conjured up, for instance, by Jaroslav Hasek in The Good Soldier Schweik.” —Anna Mudow, The Barnes & Noble Review
“Re-imagines the dull capital of the German financial industry as an urban hell where minority groups and crime bosses prey on one another with ruthless abandon.” —The Daily Beast
“If you like your investigators tough and sassy, Kayankaya is your guide.” —The Sunday Times (London) 
“This is true hardboiled detective fiction, realistic, violent and occasionally funny, with a hero who lives up to the best traditions of the genre.” —The Daily Telegraph 
Praise for One Man, One Murder
“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“A zippy, deliciously dirty tour of legal fleshpots and low-down scams victimizing illegal aliens . . . Plotted with verve and written with passion.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The book is as hard-boiled as private eye stories come.” —The Toronto Star
International Praise for Jacob Arjouni’s Kayankaya novels
“A worthy grandson of Marlowe and Spade.” —Der Stern (Germany)
“Jakob Arjouni writes the best urban thrillers since Raymond Chandler.” —Tempo (UK)
“A genuine storyteller who beguiles his readers without the need of tricks.” —L’Unità (Italy)
“Arjouni is a master of authentic background descriptions and an original story teller.” —SonntagsZeitung (Germany)
“Arjouni tells real-life stories, and they virtually never have a happy ending. He tells them so well, with such flexible dialogue and cleverly maintained tension, that it is impossible to put his books down.” —El País (Spain)
“His virtuosity, humor and feeling for tension are a ray of hope in literature on the other side of the Rhine.” —Actuel (France)
“Pitch-black noir.” —La Depeche (France)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like many a translated European crime novel, this American edition comes with overblown references to Chandler and Hammett and is replete with idiosyncratic prose stylings that, whether deliberate or artifacts of the translation from the German, serve to perplex rather than illuminate. Ahmed Hamul was a Turkish laborer stabbed to death in Frankfurt and suspected by his family of being a heroin dealer. Kemal Kayankaya is the shamus, born in Turkey but raised in Germany, hired by the victim's wife to find the truth about the killing. Arjouni leads his readers through the dark center of early-'80s Frankfurt with its strippers, hookers and ersatz Americana in the shape of fried chicken and cheeseburgers. The language, while briskly utilized, is often stretched (a refrigerator resembles a pack of cigarettes beside the large body of a barmaid) and every genre cliche about the hard-drinking, smart-mouthed gumshoe is shamelessly overemployed. Frankfurt might as well be Pittsburgh, and Kayankaya a TV creation. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This entertaining, fast-paced mystery features private investigator Kemal Kayankaya, a German citizen of Turkish origin. Ahmed Hamul is murdered in Frankfurt's red light district. His wife wants to know why, so she hires Kayankaya. During his investigation, we glimpse the discrimination faced by foreigners in today's Germany. Though born in Turkey, Kayankaya was adopted by a German couple, is largely unfamiliar with Turkish life and customs, and speaks only German. Nevertheless, by virtue of his name and appearance, he comes into his share of abuse. He doesn't seem to benefit from his experience, however, forever sowing what he reaps. He thinks of two Oriental men, for example, as ``slit-eyed Minoltas'' and refers to an overweight woman as ``Madam Hulk.'' Something is no doubt lost in the translation, but the spirit is presumably the same. This enjoyable book exposes Americans to a slice of German culture they might not otherwise see. For public libraries that buy fiction in translation.-- Peggie Partello, Keene State Coll., N.H.
Kirkus Reviews
On his 26th birthday, p.i. Kemal Kayankaya—whose passport says German but whose face brands him as a despised Turk—tells Ilter Hamul that he'll try to find out who knifed her husband Ahmed, another Turk the police don't care about. In the three days before he wraps up the case, Kayankaya has time to identify Ilter's sister as a heroin addict, track down Ahmed's girlfriend (a pro in Frankfurt's red-light district), link his father-in-law's fatal accident three years earliler to an ingenious police coverup, and still survive beatings, gas attacks, and a close encounter with a Fiat. A blistering debut (the "first volume in the bestselling series"): outcast Kayankaya is a perfect hardboiled detective, and the plot has more zip than most of the home-grown competition. Welcome to America, Turk.

Product Details

Melville House Publishing
Publication date:
Kemal Kayankaya Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

JAKOB ARJOUNI was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1964, the son of acclaimed German playwright Hans Gunter Michelson. He wrote numerous books, including the novels Chez Max and Magic Hoffmann, which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Award. But it is for his series of five mysteries featuring the Turkish immigrant detective Kemal Kayankaya for which he became best known. Bestsellers throughout Europe and the winner of the German Thriller Prize, they have also been turend into wildly popular movies in his home country. Arjouni died from pancreatic cancer at age forty-eight in January 2013.

ANSELM HOLLO is the author of more than thirty books, most recently the essay collection Caws & Causeries and Notes on the Possibilities and Attractions of Existence: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000, which received the San Francisco Poetry Center's Book Award for 2001. His translation of Pentii Saarikoski's Trilogy received the 2004 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Happy Birthday, Turk (Kemal Kayankaya Series #1) 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. But liked Kismet(his second book) better. This was a little to hard boiled for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This would be the hard-boiled-detective novel. It doesn't appeal to me, apart from some humor and some matter-of-fact ethnic commentary. It might work for readers who are male and Republican (in the American sense) but not racist.