The 5th Puzzle: Why are the Treasures of Istanbul unknown?

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Research

When I was growing up I heard nothing about the beauty and wonders of Istanbul. I heard a lot about the wonders of Paris and Rome, but nothing positive about Istanbul. And I am a voracious reader of newspapers and magazines. Istanbul was the city of Midnight Express, a depiction of pure violence, and occasionally a political story would appear about a coup.  Imagine my surprise when I went to Istanbul to discover: 1. A museum that was the largest cathedral in Christendom for a thousand years, Hagia Sophia, which displays many of most important Byzantine artworks, mosaics, ever created. This building influenced mosques and inspired millions.  2. A palace, Topkapi, containinig Moses’ rod, original harem buildings, a treasury containing an 86-carat pear-shaped diamond, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, priceless art and artifacts and a view over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn that thousands died for. 3. A Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, a vision of ages past, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world dating from early Ottoman times. The list goes on too, the remains of a Roman Hippodrome, gigantic fortified Byzantine city walls and palaces, and mosques that are as beautiful as any in the world. The views everywhere make Istanbul perhaps the most beautiful city in Europe and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world. So why have all these treasures been ignored, and why do we rarely see mention of the beauty of Istanbul anywhere? Is it simply that many people just haven’t been there? I believe so. And I hope you enjoy Istanbul as much as I do when you go there. Before you go though, one last treasure must be mentioned. The vast majority of Istanbulers are among the friendliest and kindest people in the world. Perhaps they are its greatest treasure.   To order The Istanbul Puzzle click here....

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The Istanbul Puzzle arrives in Poland & a free competition

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Competitions

The Istanbul Puzzle has just been released in Polish. If anyone would like a copy for a Polish speaking friend or family member please share this post (Twitter, Facebook or any other site) and comment below. I will post a copy to a person randomly selected from the people commenting, to anywhere in the world free of charge, on the 10th April 2013. As a final piece of news I am working hard, seven days a week, on a second detailed edit of The Manhattan Puzzle. The murderous conspiracy behind the Istanbul & Jerusalem puzzles will finally, and bloodily, be exposed in The Manhattan...

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Symbol Secrets from The Jerusalem Puzzle & a £100 prize.

Posted by on Dec 6, 2012 in Historical Puzzles, The Jerusalem Puzzle

The square and arrow symbol in the manuscript Sean and Isabel found under Hagia Sophia in The Istanbul Puzzle returns in The Jerusalem Puzzle. In The Jerusalem Puzzle the symbol is discovered in the Museum of Antiquities in central Cairo near Tahrir Square.  This is the museum where  King Tutankhamun’s famous golden mask is on display. The remains of many famous Pharaohs are housed there, as well as items from their tombs, along with a huge papyrus and coin collection on the ground floor. Sean goes to the museum after seeing a picture of a papyrus fragment in a guide to the museum. Here is the fragment: My interest in the square and arrow symbol was inspired by this fragment. The caption on the card beneath the fragment reads, according to my notes: Papyrus fragment found 1984 in rubbish pit near the Black Pyramid (built King Amenemhat III, Middle Kingdom era, 2055-1650 BC), by the Austrian Institute of Cairo. The lower hieroglyph represents the Queen of Darkness. The upper hieroglyph has not been deciphered. The only other example of these hieroglyphs is from a stone inscription at the Gihon Pool in Jerusalem, a Canaanite province of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom era. The symbol reappears later in The Jerusalem Puzzle when it is used as a marker and also near the end when its purpose is further alluded too. The Jerusalem Puzzle provides strong clues as to what this symbol means. And there is still a prize of £100 available to anyone who breaks the code contained in the symbol. Some other possible meanings since I created this original post on what the symbol means, include that it was used as a mnemonic or that it was an old Mandarin symbol for the sun found in the  Zhongyuan Yinyun. The character has been simplified in modern Mandarin to 日 (rì) meaning day; sun; date; or day of the month according to that theory. I don’t know if any of that will help you win the £100 prize! But it just might. Good luck! And remember – no purchase is necessary to solve this...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Advanced social media for writers – what works and what doesn’t?

Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in On Writing

. This is the last in a series of seven posts.  The previous post on using emotion in your writing is here. The question of what works and what doesn’t in terms of social media for writers is complicated by two key factors; each of us will have a unique social media experience based on our own situation and personal preferences, and each of us brings our own baggage to the social media table. Luddites will deny that social media has any relevance to writing. Social media lovers will say it will change everything for writers and writing. I fall in the middle somewhere. Here is what I can tell you that has worked for me, and what disappoints me: * Social media helped me win a global publishing contract with Harper Collins and my first novel is being translated into 9 other languages, partly because I had a presence on social media, (Twitter, a blog, YouTube). I also had a good novel, but the publisher was interested in the fact that I had a following too. This may be unfair, but for me it wasn’t. I’ve been on the other end of unfairness too often in my life to complain about it when I get a break. * Social media has helped me get through the day. I work at a desk in a small house in a bleak suburb. My social media friends make me smile, make me look at the world outside my little corner, and make me feel connected. Rubbish this if you want. But don’t try and take my social media away. I need it. * My sales are good for my first novel, The Istanbul Puzzle, the novel has continued to sell nine months after publication and the presales of my new novel, The Jerusalem Puzzle, are surprisingly good too (order it on the right). Yes, you have to have a good novel to sell, but social media allows me to get the word out, to tell people it’s been edited within an inch of it’s life and it’s available . * Not everything I have done on social media has been a success. I am on Pinterest, Foursquare, Empire Avenue, Sulia, Tumblr, Instagram and a lot of other sites. Their impact has been limited. Much of my time spent exploring the outer reaches of the social media universe has been wasted. The truly most important things I do are my two blogs, this one and, my Twitter profile and my Facebook page, because they generate a lot of interaction with readers all around the world. I got 400 hits on my two blogs yesterday. It’s not James Bond, but for me, someone who got only a hundred hits in his first month with a blog, it’s good. So if you are a writer these are the things I recommend, stick to the main sites, develop...

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Literary Mysteries at a UNESCO City of Literature event in Dublin

Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in Research

Author of The Istanbul Puzzle, Laurence O’Bryan, discussed some literary mysteries with’s Kevin Flanagan as part of the UNESCO City of Literature series of events in Dublin at Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin in late 2012. For any of you who didn’t make it below is the Q&A I prepared. There were some extra questions on the night, and a reading of Chapters One from The Jerusalem puzzle, but you will get a good idea of the event from this post: Kevin:                   Are you a freemason, Laurence? Laurence:            No, but I want to thank the organisation for allowing us to use their building this evening. I find this hall fascinating. The whole building is a museum, an architectural gem of Victorian Dublin. The relevance of Masonry is not for me to make any judgements on, but I think if we knew more about their historical role in Ireland’s affairs it would be a good thing. Kevin:                   Would you consider yourself to be writing literary mysteries? Laurence:            Yes. Mysteries are distinguished by the reader not knowing what is going to happen or who murdered the victim. Mysteries often start with a murder as The Istanbul Puzzle does. Stories which are mostly thrillers look forward to an event, an assassination for instance, and make you want to read on to find out will it happen. These are the traditional definitions of these two categories of crime novels. Kevin:                   Is the mystery novel worthy of a place in the canons of literature? Laurence:            I will quote something from a book called The Technique of the Mystery Story. “A liking for mystery is not a mark of poor taste or an indication of inferior intellect. Its readers form an audience greatly misunderstood by other literary people, whose mentality lacks this bent. But what especial audience is not misunderstood. Do not many people say to music lovers, “I don’t see how you can sit through Parsifal? Do not some scoff at people who trail through art galleries, catalogue in hand?” Kevin:                   When was that written? Laurence:            1913. And it goes on to say, “Supercilious persons who profess to have a high regard for the dignity of literature are loath to admit that detective stories belong to the category of serious writing.” So there has been a long debate about the place of the mystery story in literature. That tract went on to say “We must consider the rightful place of the mystery story in fiction. It is neither below nor above the other types of story, but side by side with character studies, society sketches or symbolic romances.” Kevin:                   Let’s move forward a little. What is this mystery about the Big Sleep? Laurence:            Raymond Chandler is acknowledged as one of the finest crime and mystery writers. He wrote novels, and for Hollywood. The...

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