Monday, December 13, 2010

"the topkapi secret" by terry kelhawk

Following the disintegration of her marriage and the deaths of her in-laws, Professor Angela Hall travels to Turkey to research women's issues. While in the region, she reconnects with relatives she hasn't seen in years, including Mohammed Atareek. Mohammed is one of several researchers seeking to prove the Koran has changed through the years. Together, he and Angela embark on a quest to study the famous Topkapi Codex, which Mohammed believes will is the key to proving his theories about the Koran. However, other Islamic scholars are equally desperate to keep Mohammed's theories quiet, and Angela and Mohammed soon find themselves fighting not only for the truth, but also for their lives.

The Topkapi Secret is Terry Kelhawk's debut novel, and it shows. That's not to say the book is uninteresting, but I found myself far more interested in Kelhawk's research than I was in her characters. In fact, I would rather have read her research by itself. I don't know much about the Koran, but the conspiracies surrounding its codification are fascinating. I'd be interested in reading about real-life researchers who are trying to bring the truth to light. I thought the story line actually detracted from the information, rather than enhancing it.

That said, this is a fiction book, and as such, it didn't work for me. Angela and Mohammed supposedly have this magnetic attraction to each other, but I didn't pick up on any of that. Normally when I read a romance, even a mediocre one, I'm dying for the two who are "destined" to be together to move in that direction. In this book, I couldn't have cared less if Mohammed and Angela were together (or even alive. I can't remember the last time I cared so little for a book's main characters) ... and when they got together, I didn't feel any sort of satisfaction--I just wanted to get back to the research. Also, the story line featuring Selim, Angela's colleague from Turkey, was set up to be a major plot point--one scene alluded to Selim being a member of the Mus-haf Brotherhood, the group opposing Mohammed--and then it seemed to be forgotten.

Basically, as information regarding the Koran and changes to it, this book is fascinating. As a work of fiction, not so much. If you'd like more information on the book or the research behind it, visit the book's website or facebook page.

(Please note: Most of the books I review are clearly Christian in nature. This one is not. So if you choose to read it, be aware that it contains more language and sex than books I normally review.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Glass Road Public Relations. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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