Book Review: The Topkapi Secret

13 Dec

American professor Angela Hall’s world is falling apart. Left with two things: her money and her job, she sets out to research women’s issues in The Middle East. Until she crosses paths with Mohammed Atareek…

Mohammed is a man on a mission. Raised in the Muslim faith, he has learned something no Muslim is supposed to know: the Koran of today is not the original. Could it be true? Mohammed will risk his life to find out.

When Angela’s and Mohammed’s worlds collide, sparks fly–both from their hearts and the tempers of the terrorists following them.

Terry Kelhawk is an award-winning writer, speaker, and teacher. She holds a doctorate degree and has considerable personal and professional experience with the Middle East and Islam.

In Terry’s words, “I love peoples and cultures. We have so much to learn from each other, and this makes the world a richer place. Yet when I come across a misunderstanding or deception which adversely impacts a culture or people group, for the sake of those people I believe it should be exposed.”

Terry Kelhawk holds a doctorate degree, but believes people should keep on learning through life. Her areas of interest are culture, religion, and women’s rights – especially of Middle East. She blogs on,, and, and likes travel, reading, and asking questions.

Terry believes we should, as Honey Jean of Atlanta in The Topkapi Secret would say, “Make the world a better place, or y’all just taking up space!”

My Impressions:

Let me say first, that The Topkapi Secret is not like the books I normally review.  It contains mild profanity and sexual scenes that some may find offensive.  But this book does not purport to be a Christian novel, so I gave the author some leeway.  It is, however, a revealing look at Muslim culture both in America and abroad.  It also is a suspenseful account of a group’s attempts to shed light on the origins of the Koran.  Complete with terrorist assassins, an aggravating and endearing hero, and a woman professor on a journey of discovery, it is a satisfying read.

Fresh from a divorce, Angela O’Connor Hall, an oddly named Muslim American professor at UC Berkeley, comes to the Middle East to research women’s rights development and to reconnect with her Palestinian mother’s roots.  She sets off on a journey to discover more about her family and finds an unlikely traveling companion, the flamboyant, strutting Mohammed Atareek.  Mohammed has a secret and lets Angela in on it — the modern Koran is not what Islamic scholars say — an unchanged book.   A Muslim extremist group is intent on silencing all those who make this claim, especially Mohammed.

The result is a vacation like no other.  Traveling through the West Bank into Lebanon, they face Israeli bombers.  On to Syria and Turkey, they evade assassins while trying to expose the truth behind the development of the Koran.  The chase scene through a Moroccan market is hilarious.

Besides being a great suspense/romance, The Topkapi Secret is a rather controversial book. The few negative reviews on blogs I read, revealed the same reactions as the characters in the book. Kelhawk is charged with anti-Muslim bias by insulting the credibility of the holy book of Islam. While scholarly articles attacking the Bible and books portraying Christ in an insulting way are embraced by academics and the public at large,  no one (at least no one who is politically correct) would ever dare to examine Islam and its traditions, laws and values.

I enjoyed Kelhawk’s window into the attitudes of those living in the Middle East as well as Arab Americans.  I also found the research into the authenticity of the Koran fascinating.  This isn’t a quick and easy read, but it is thought-provoking.


For The Topkapi Secret Facebook link, click here.

(I received The Topkapi Secret from Glass Road Public Relations is exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

%d bloggers like this: