Book Review: Travma, by Osman Aysu

Like his father, Murat works in the construction trade. Quite successfully. In fact, life couldn’t be better. Business is thriving, and his personal life even more so with the clever, vibrant Derya beside him, perhaps soon to be his wife. Of course, such perfection cannot last, and in Murat’s case, the idyllic image of his life is shattered one night when his mind is assaulted by a most disturbing nightmare. Racing into a house atop a hill and climbing the steps to the top floor, he finds his beloved naked and bound to a table. And before his very eyes, Murat witnesses Derya’s murder at the hands of a cruel, sinister, and faceless man.

So opens Osman Aysu’s haunting tale entitled Trauma. It is not the first time Murat has suffered from these visions in his sleep. Nor will it be the last. The reader accompanies Murat through various manifestations of his nightmares, apparently coming closer and closer to a dark, disturbing truth that underlies them all, memories of a traumatic event from his childhood that his mind simply could not bear. Can he manage to uncover the truth before the visions drive him insane?

Trauma is an engaging story, fairly well written, of course by an author who has penned numerous novels of crime fiction and suspense. I quite enjoyed the twists of this story, the sense of mystery enveloping the nightmares—could they be supernatural in origin? Is Murat being haunted by the spirit of a man who has been dead for years, yet who apparently just recently visited Murat’s father? As often happens with Osman Aysu’s tales, I rather quickly became irritated by the narrator’s persistently repetitious details, unnecessary observations made by the protagonist again and again. I would prefer watching the action unfold before me than be repeatedly told what is happening and what has already happened and what might happen next. Still, the story kept me reading until the end, eager at least to see the mystery unravel.

Book Review: Casus, by Osman Aysu

Retired intelligence agent Samim Vardar has long since left his former profession far behind him. Although the scars he bares have never fully healed. Particularly from the gruesome wounds he sustained while being tortured by a sadistic Russian agent named Igor Kariagin. Yet Samim’s experiences may yet prove useful to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization as they try to identify a suspicious Russian doctor now living in İstanbul. One look into the Russian’s eyes is enough to convince Samim of the sadist’s return. The problem lies in convincing the younger intelligence agents of this when, as far as they know, Kariagin died some years ago in Russia.

There is certainly a pleasure in reading how a supposedly over-the-hill “agent” (“casus” in Turkish) is not quite as useless as some of the younger generation might suspect. You have to admire his determination and his keen eye for the art of shadowing a suspect. What comes off a bit too repetitive, however, is how others, even the younger agent who deeply admires him, dismiss his suspicions and suggestions as bordering on senility, find out Samim was right, praise him to high heaven, and then discount his next suspicions. I could also do without Samim’s smug grins every time he seems to know something the younger agents couldn’t seem to figure out on their own. Then again, I guess he earned his conceit.