The Ottoman Excursion
by Tim Pelkey
SDP Publishing

"Now is the time for reckoning."

When Michael Callahan, an American surgeon with the World Health Organization’s Disaster Relief Team, boards a plane to Istanbul, he never imagines what the next weeks will hold in store. He and the other members of the team are en route to Izmir, a town on Turkey’s west coast, to provide medical help to the victims of a recent earthquake. But as the Turkish members of the team point out, this country straddles Europe and Asia not only geographically but ideologically, as well, and the pull between East and West, fundamentalism and modernization, can be as volatile as any natural disaster.

Inspired by the Andrew Mango biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the early twentieth-century Turkish reformer and founder of the Turkish Republic, the novel explores a country that, after the death of Atatürk, is in a struggle for its identity. A group has been secretly training as soldiers for years in the manner of the Ottoman Empire’s Janissaries—slave boys who were kidnapped, brainwashed, and trained to be ruthless fighters. Now the leader of the modern-day reincarnation of this group is preparing for revolution and will stop at nothing to obtain power. As the medical team begins their exhausting stint in the tent hospital caring for the earthquake victims, the mysterious death of a young girl is the catalyst that pulls them into the dangerous world of bio-terrorism as they and the country are plunged into turmoil.

Between all the plot twists and harrowing chases that define the best thrillers, Pelkey’s interweaving of interesting historical facts enlightens the reader in the most delightful way. With his mastery of dialogue and description, the author weaves a tale that leaves the reader enthralled from beginning to end. He writes about Turkey and its history in such a way that it seems more character than setting. An intriguing plot and well-rounded characters leave one wishing for more. Not only does the author provide a thoroughly captivating read through plot and setting, his characters are also fascinating. Readers are afforded a unique glimpse into the minds of the Turkish people through the team doctors who are natives of the country. This is a perfect read for those wishing to understand the underlying push and pull of religious and secular life in the Middle East while becoming mesmerized by a great storyline.

This is Pelkey’s second novel following the well-received and award-winning The Baljuna Covenant, a thriller that combines the historical and political with the story of Genghis Khan. The author’s dedication to the extensive research which is necessary to produce such fascinating and educational tales derives from his love of history. Inspired by biographies, his writing spins entertaining stories around historical figures. The knowledge he brings to his work as a medical doctor adds an unexpected layer of interest and expertise to his narratives. It is this combination of skills blended with his talent for telling a great story that sets Pelkey apart. This second offering is bound to garner the same types of accolades as his first. He is an author whose work should not be missed.

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