The Topkapi Secret

There is a book, hidden for many years from prying eyes, that contains many secrets.  Blood was spilt over this book, literally on it, and this murder caused the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims today.  This book is called the Topkapi codex, kept safe at the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul.  It is this manuscript that the new book The Topkapi Secret is about.  The author, Terry Kelhawk, did an amazing job of researching the information for this book.  It raises such questions about the integrity of the modern Koran that it could be called a new DaVinci Code, but in this case, it is based on fact, not fiction.  To see, take a look at all of the sources Terry provides in the appendix.

The Topkapi Secret begins with the two characters of Mohammed Atareek, a researcher of ancient Koranic manuscripts, and Angela Hall, a UC Berkley English professor.  Mohammed is interested in the integrity of the Koran, and is looking at all the old manuscripts to try to find something of use, but the real manuscript he wants to see is the Topkapi codex, and none are allowed access to it.  Angela is recovering from the recent loss of a friend and colleague as well as a recent divorce.  She ventures to the Middle East with a friend and is enjoying her trip when she runs into Mohammed, who rushes off with her in search of adventure and the Topkapi codex.

Someone is after Mohammed, however, and will do anything to keep him from getting the codex.  It is after a few run-ins with a dangerous brotherhood that Mohammed decides to go on the run with Angela.  The action and intrigue build and build as together they adventure across the Middle East, each in search of something different.

Sparks fly between Mohammed and Angela as they venture through locales one could only dream of visiting.  Whether it is the ancient cedars of Lebanon or the ruins and caves of Istanbul, the scenes are easy to picture in the mind’s eye.  Terry Kelhawk does an excellent job of creating these mental pictures for the reader.  I would definitely recommend this book, especially for those who are the adventurous type or really interested in history.  It is very well written, and draws the reader through to the last page.

My only problem with The Topkapi Secret was that even though I couldn’t put it down (as it was really interesting) the book has too much fascinating history and not enough story, at least for my taste.  I couldn’t wait to turn the page and learn a bit more about the Koran, the Middle East, and all the amazing locations and the history behind it all.  It was certainly the most interesting bit of history I have read in a long time.  The book does cover a few mature topics, as a character or two are seen in a compromising position, and the history of the area does include what went on inside the harem of a prince—especially as the harem’s main purpose was to provide the prince with an heir.

Again, I recommend this book, particularly to Christians, as it is a great means to learn about the faith, the land, and the history of the Muslim faith.  It is very intriguing and I guarantee you will learn something that you have never known, and it may just challenge you as well.  So check out The Topkapi Secret by Terry Kelhawk!

Review title sent courtesy of Prometheus Books

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