A Turkish Delight

Ab Proof

 

I finished this book about a week ago or so and forgot to let you know how it turned out.  The Abyssinian Proof by Jenny White was a really pleasurable read.  It’s a historical fiction novel set in the Ottoman Empire, but it’s also a crime novel.  White is a professor of anthropology, and I think she did a super great job combining historical accuracy and the flavor of Turkish society with a fictional detective story.  If the elements of religious uncertainty, relic hunting, and suspense appealed to you from the De Vinci Code, I think you might like this piece too.

The book centers on Kamil Pasha, a magistrate in Istanbul.  After a rash of thefts of religious icons, he is tasked with catching the perpetrators.  His search teams him up with a local police chief, Omar, and drags in his friend, Malik, who is the caretaker of a temple for an isolated and little known religious sect in the city.  This sect has roots to the city back hundreds of years when Istanbul was Constantinople and the gem of Byzantium, and the search for the missing artifacts uncovers its history, hidden tunnels under the city, and a larger secret about the origin of religion.  It also has all the good stuff like foreigners, a little romance, spies, and murder.

The Abyssinian Proof is set in the nineteenth century, which I enjoyed a lot, but it might be a turn off for others.  Other than that, I have very little negatives to report.  It was a fast read but had enough meat to it that I enjoyed it over several days.  The crime plot was really well developed and had tons of twists and turns.  There were plenty of sub-plots too, so as I read I got involved and invested with the characters.  I’m not a big fan of religious history, but White did it very well and balanced it with the detective-murder plot tastefully.  Overall, it was one of the most engaging and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time.

What I didn’t realize when I bought the book is that it’s actually the second book in a series of novels following the same character.  From what I gather, the books don’t build off one another, but now that I’ve read this one, I think I’m going to go back and get the first one.  It’s called The Sutlan’s Seal, and it sounds just as thrilling and colorful as this one.

(*I also loved that on the back cover of the book there was a note about what tattoo studio did the cover model’s tattoo.  Got to know the important stuff, people!  She looks so sexy!)

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