It is the year Rumi year 1302 or 1886 by the Christian calendar. The setting is Istanbul where the naked body of a white woman had been found floating in the Bosphorus. Around her neck is a pendant that contains the tughra, the Sultan's seal - a signature that is only found on special possessions of the imperial household. For Kamil Pasha, the city's magistrate, there are echoes of a similar murder - of an English governess - that took place eight years before. There are also links to a woman called Jaanan, a member of Ottoman high society who has fallen into disgrace.The body of the first victim was discovered, drowned, on the estate where she lived with her mother and uncle. Jaanan was a priveleged child who grew up amongst the 'veiled ladies' of the court but her life changed when she fell in love with a man who was involved in a plot to overturn the Sultan. Sybil is the daughter of the English Amabassador and as such, has unique access to the most prominent circles in the Court. She uses her connections to help Kamil Pasha infiltate the secrets world of the harem, and gradually falls in love with him.
As they work to untangle the threads of both murders they make powerful enemies in a dramatic tale of court intrigue and revenge.
Jenny White is a tenured professor of anthropology at Boston University, specializing in Turkish studies. She's written monographs on 20th-century politics and has been studying the Islamic party that recently won the elections in Turkey. Her book on that party became required reading in the State Department. She started writing THE SULTAN'S SEAL because she wanted to do something fun.