The Topkapi Secret

Terry Kelhawk, Prometheus, $25 (430p) ISBN 978-1-61614-213-1
Kelhawk's debut thriller fails to do justice to its intriguing premise—that the text of the Topkapi Codex, a Koran manuscript kept in Istanbul's legendary Topkapi museum, may vary significantly from that of the modern Koran. The codex serves largely as a McGuffin, taking a backseat to the adventures and misadventures of the two dull leads. Angela Hall, an English lit professor at Berkeley, ends up in Ramallah, on the West Bank, where she encounters Mohammed Atareek, who's determined to get access to the codex, despite the museum's denial of his requests. Kelhawk, the pseudonym of an expert on Islam, doesn't always smoothly integrate factual information into the narrative. The cartoonish showdown with the bad guys in a tannery undercuts any efforts to take the codex plot line seriously. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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