Books that are part of a series but can be read alone are fantastic. That is until you pick up a book that is part way through, or in this case the current end, of a series and the irrational anger of reading something out of order overwhelms you.
Reading the Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe by M.H.Baylis, part of the Rex Tracey series, was perfectly clear and understandable without having read the previous two books but now I do feel to be in some sort of dilemma. When I get my hands on the first and second book do I read those alone or then re-read the third book as well? Based on this book I do certainly want to pick up the other two published in the series and enjoy more of the made up London Borough that brings together a number of different realities from actual London boroughs to form an interesting, diverse and extraordinary area.
Sometimes I like books that are deeply rooted in fantasy and other times, like this, I adore books that are based deeply on reality and a setting that I can understand. Being able to piece together what something is meant to represent without much thought or consideration makes it a little easier for the mind to be able to process the plot and the characters involved. Having the chance to quickly process such information is super important to me when it comes to something representing a murder mystery because the last thing I want is to be trying to muddle my way through a setting of a book and also trying to figure out facts, fiction and character motives on top of it all.
There is more to this book though than it simply being a murder mystery, a classic whodunnit, as instead it brings in a mixture of politics, culture and religion to cause further questions about the case. Some things are there to shock the reader, remind the reader the ‘culture’ isn’t as simple as the thing we are brought up with and that sometimes there are just things we cannot understand easily because it isn’t part of our identity. All of the themes are easy enough to be grasped, as long as you have some basic understanding outside of your own shell, and they in no way impact on the readers ability to get stuck into the story and figuring out what exactly has happened.
Even when you start to realise the true fate of the girl that came burning down in a shopping centre in front of a prospective new Labour MP and the level of corruption going on behind the council doors the ending of the story still tugs at your heart a little. There are other underlying plots going on throughout the book such as delving into Rex’s personal life and it is here where it feels that a little more background knowledge of reading the previous two books would have been useful (though not essential) and how him trying to stumble through a confusing world of loss, losing and love blurs his thoughts and investigation into what happened to the young Kurdish girl Mina he knew in the lead up to her horrific death.
This was a really enjoyable book and, as mentioned by wanting to read the other two in the series, I certainly liked the writing style and the way that Rex Tracey gets presented by Baylis but part of me does feel like this could easily fall into the category of a summer read. The sort of thing you grab on your kindle, take on holiday with you or pick up in the airport. It is certainly not a trash read by any means and it has lessons that have the potential to stick with a reader it is just that there is a sense of simplicity about the way that it is written that would allow a reader to flick through it during an afternoon by the pool and move onto the next book without a huge amount of immediate reflection.
If you have read this book or any in the series, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. You can also follow me on Goodreads and my newly created Instagram account (separate to my other one) that chat specifically about books!