The Janissary Tree

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The Janissary Tree
First edition (UK)
Author Jason Goodwin
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Yashim the Detective[1]
Genre Historical mystery
Publisher Faber and Faber (UK)
Farrar Straus and Giroux (US)
Publication date
16 May 2006
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 332
ISBN 0-571-22922-0
OCLC 64555080
Followed by The Snake Stone[2]

The Janissary Tree is a historical mystery novel set in Istanbul in 1836, written by Jason Goodwin. It is the first in the Yashim the Detective series, followed by The Snake Stone, The Bellini Card, An Evil Eye and The Baklava Club. The series features Yashim, an eunuch detective, who is resourceful and learned in both the Ottoman culture and that of the West, enjoys the trust of the Sultan and high officials, and prefers to live in a rather bohemian lodging outside the palace complex. The novel deals with the fictional aftermath of the Auspicious Event, the disbanding (and mass killing) of the Janissaries, once elite troops of the Ottoman Empire.

The Janissary Tree won an Edgar Award for Best Novel 2007[3] and has been translated into over 40 languages.[1]


In June 1826, the Sultan Mahmud II disbands and slaughters the Janissaries, once elite troops of the Ottoman Empire but long an unruly element beyond the control of the Sultan or anybody else. Ten years later, the new Westernized corps which replaced the Janissaries are to perform a military exercise. Ten days before the event, four officers disappear; subsequently, one officer is found dead. The general entrusts Yashim the eunuch with solving the mystery. Meanwhile, the Sultan's newest concubine is murdered and the Sultan's mother's jewelry stolen. Yashim must simultaneously investigate three different cases.

The cases bring Yashim in and out of the palace, to various embassies, a mosque, and the alleyways and streets of Istanbul. To solve the cases, Yashim employs the assistance of a Polish ambassador and the wife of the Russian ambassador. He discovers that the cases are related, and that they not only involve a plot for revenge by surviving Janissaries hidden somewhere but also the power struggle between the palace eunuchs and the military's extreme pursuit of democratization. In the end, Yashim, against all odds, succeeds in preventing several conspiracies.


  1. ^ a b "Jason Goodwin". Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Janissary Tree". Cornucopia Magazine. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Milligan, Michael. "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Retrieved 16 October 2011. 

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