Monthly Archives: May 2012

Liking stuff – including a duck shoot

Setting up a modern online publishing venture is like picking at a loose thread: before you know it you’ve made a hole in the world wide web and all your schedules are unravelling…

Sunita, the glamorous publicity director of Argonaut Books, insisted that The Gunpowder Gardens should have a Facebook page. Then, that the page should be liked by as many people as possible. So if anyone has a minute – and why should you? – please go over to and click Like: apparently it’s an open sesame.

More congenially, I took Yashim’s friend Palewski, the Polish ambassador to the Sublime Porte, duck shooting this morning. It’s September, barely dawn, just outside Istanbul at the Çekmece Lakes, where the duck comes in from the Crimea… Both lakes have bridges built by the masterly Sinan.

Museum Secrets

Last year I did some filming with Kensington TV for a series called Museum Secrets, airing on Canada’s History Television channel.

Episode 14, Topkapi palace, is going out today.


Why were so many Sultans assassinated?

What would be the perfect way to murder a Sultan?

Topkapi Palace Museum is peaceful at night.  But when the Sultans lived here, it’s likely they had trouble sleeping.

A traitorous vizier, a jealous wife, or an ambitious son – many might have reasons to murder a Sultan.   During the Ottoman Empire, 19 Sultans were assassinated.

In the broadcast episode, we meet a man who is an expert in such matters.  His name is Jason Goodwin – a detective novelist who sets his stories in Topkapi Palace during the Ottoman Empire.

We follow Jason as he examines murderous possibilities in the Sultan’s bathroom, at Istanbul’s famed spice market, and as he returns to Topkapi to consider the homicidal potential of the Sultan’s kitchen.  Here Jason investigates if poison could be secreted into a Sultan’s food.

Is poison the best way to murder a Sultan?  Or are other nefarious methods more likely to succeed?

All is revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside Topkapi.

Further Questions

Jason’s detective novels, set in Topkapi Palace, are filled with mystery and history.  We invite you to check out a complete list of his works to date on