The Turkish Affair: another look at Romantic Mystery
Don’t the words Romantic Mystery conjure up stalkers, a serial killer or two, car chases, shoot-outs, and gun-packing superheroes and heroines? Well…I must admit I prefer reality, even when it comes to romance. If I were in danger, could I really count on the sudden appearance of some gorgeous, sexy, very hot secret agent who instantly puts a villain out of commission? Of course I couldn’t. Therefore, in my books, you’ll find none of that.
What I do like describing is that first, very tentative gentleness, and those early stirrings of love. But I also enjoy transporting my readers to unusual places, and giving them unconventional heroes and heroines who refuse the roles society sets out for them.
In The Turkish Affair, My heroine, Anne, is a former American journalist who, after a scandalous affair with the wrong man, lost her job and her reputation. For the last ten years, she’s been in hiding, living in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator. My hero, Renaud Townsend is an archaeologist. He’s passionate about his work, about ancient history, about discovery, and about keeping his independence.
My inspiration for this book? Once upon a time, I also worked in Turkey as a translator, and, just like my heroine, I also lived in a small, restrictive community. The police were aggressive and corrupt, there was political unrest, and life could be frankly dangerous. I also spent much spent time on archaeological sites. And one day, I briefly caught sight of a lean and elegant man heading toward a jumble of smashed pillars. He was the inspiration for Renaud Townsend.
The Turkish Affair: Love and Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu
Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.
A delicious breeze tickled the air, and the little boat rocked gently. A fine line appeared between Renaud’s brows, and his blue eyes were, once again, serious. “I need your help.”
Anne stared. “My help? With what? Translating?”
“No. With something else. I have to find out who is behind the thefts at Karakuyu.”
The feeling of dread returned, but she forced herself to sound casual. “How could I possibly help you with that?”
“I don’t know.” He sighed. “I just don’t want to feel that I’m alone in this.”
What could she say to that? Tell him she was the last person he should team up with? That long ago, she’d escaped arrest by the skin of her teeth? If she did so, this splendid moment would be over. The silver-foil glimmer of romance would be tarnished forever. He’d row back to shore, drive back to Gülkale, get rid of her as quickly as possible.
“Anne?” He reached out to caress her bare arm. “Come back from wherever you are.”
“You know nothing about me,” she said jaggedly.
“Nothing,” he agreed.
She swallowed. “I could be involved in the thefts for all you know. Why ask for my help? Why choose me?”
He smiled faintly. “A good question. I suppose, quite simply, I need—or want—to trust you.”
She felt utterly miserable. Why was life always like this? Wanting someone and not being able to have them? Wanting trust, but seeing it snatched away before it came close?
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner (Jill Culiner) was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She normally resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
Web sites: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com