The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

The Star of Istanbul

A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

by Robert Olen Butler

The Star of Istanbul has it all: history galore, exotic foreign settings, a world-weary yet engaging protagonist, villains in abundance and a romance worthy of Bogart and Bergman.” —BookPage

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 400
  • Publication Date October 14, 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2157-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date October 01, 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2155-4
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

The second book in Robert Olen Butler’s Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, The Star of Istanbul is a classic tale of adventure, romance, and war. World War I is in full swing, and foreign correspondent “Kit” Cobb has been tasked with following a German intellectual and possible secret service agent into perilous waters aboard the Lusitania. But Cobb is soon distracted from his mission by the sultry Selene Bourgani, a world-renowned actress who also appears to be working with German Intelligence. The more Cobb thinks he knows her, the less he really does, and the secrets Selene harbors have the potential to set the whole international conflict further aflame. Following the night of the infamous German U-boat attack on the Lusitania, Cobb tails Selene first into London’s darkest alleyways, then on to the powder keg that is Istanbul. Across the war-torn stages of Europe and the Middle East, Cobb must venture deep behind enemy lines, cut off from his only allies, knowing full well he may not return.


“Butler impresses with his exceptional attention to historical detail, particularly aboard the Lusitania.” —Publishers Weekly

“Thrilling. . . . Butler brings the [WWI] era to vivid life . . . a ripping good yarn.” —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

“An exciting thriller with plenty of action, romance, and danger set against a compelling setting. Fans of historical spy fiction will enjoy this fast-paced journey through a world at war.” —Library Journal

“Double and triple crosses merge like lanes in a traffic roundabout, and . . . the novel commingles character-driven historical fiction with melodrama and swashbuckling action. Somehow . . . it all works; on one level, Butler is playing with genre conventions in an almost mad-scientist manner, but at the same time, he holds the reader transfixed, like a kid at a Saturday matinee.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Butler’s description of the sinking of the Lusitania is exceptional. . . . In Cobb, Butler has created an appealing hero.” —Readers Unbound

“While The Star of Istanbul meets the genre requirements for action and plotting, the precision and lyricism of Butler’s language, his incisive observations, his psychologically complex characters, and his understanding of the past lift this novel well into a genre of its own.” —Vincent Czyz, Arts Fuse

“Nothing short of amazing. . . . [Butler’s] description of the aftermath of the attack on the Lusitania will leave you with your heart in your mouth . . . and his ability to draw ironic ley lines between seemingly disparate events of the past and contemporary times is first-rate. . . . Yet another remarkable work from an author who continues, at this advanced stage of his career, to surpass himself.” —Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com

The Star of Istanbul has it all: history galore, exotic foreign settings, a world-weary yet engaging protagonist, villains in abundance and a romance worthy of Bogart and Bergman.” —BookPage

“Butler’s grasp of history is excellent. . . . You will enjoy every new twist and turn in this spy game as we see WWI in full tilt in Europe and the Middle East.” —Brenda Repland, Arab Voice

“Pulitzer Prize-winning Butler successfully changed pace by launching a thriller series.” —Library Journal

“[An] outstanding work of historical fiction.” —David M. Kinchen, Huntington News

“Exhilarating. . . . Robert Olen Butler does a fantastic job blending fiction with real-life 1915 global hysteria.” —Mining Journal


I made another step to the side and another and I could see her again, in profile now, her long, straight nose beautifully at odds with the usual standards of beauty of this age. I thought: I bet her feet are large too and her hands and she is all the more beautiful for defying this world’s conventions in these details. And I was still entranced by her nose, absorbing even the precise curve where its bridge met her brow, a perfect fit, I fancied, for my fingertip, when she said, “I am a film actress.”

She’d hardly finished the sentence when one reporter leaped in before another hubbub of questions could begin. “Miss Bourgani,” he said, “the world is at war.” She turned her face instantly to him—in my general direction as well—and her dark eyes riveted him and his voice snagged as if he were suddenly beginning to choke. He managed to stammer a couple of meaningless vowel sounds and then he fell silent. The other reporters all laughed. But it was a sympathetic laugh. Hers was a face that could stop a thousand ships.

“Yes?” she said, encouraging him to go on with his question, giving the impression that she’d spoken softly, though I could hear her clearly. “Miss Bourgani,” the reporter began again. “In light of the German threats and this being a British liner, are you afraid to be traveling on the Lusitania?”