November 17, 2007

Book Review: The Identity Factor by James Houston Turner

I was set to not like this book. I've gotten a lot of small press/self-published books in the past few weeks, and most of them have been terrible. And the PR sheet on this one talked about how it was challenging the traditional evangelical view of the Pentateuch -- that Moses wrote it. So I figured that I'd read it, rip it, and move on. But The Identity Factor is actually quite good, and doesn't say much at all that would offend anyone who holds to the traditional view of Mosaic authorship of the Torah.

Basic plot line goes like this -- there's a tablet that was found in the 1920s that is an almost verbatim copy of major parts of Genesis. BUT it's 500 years older than the Genesis accounts, and it claims to have been written by Ishmael. AND it repeats the claim that Jews have been making for thousands of years -- that Palestine belongs to them, not the Arabs.

So you can see that a modern rediscovery of this tablet would cause some serious commotion -- and that's where the book begins. The tablet's been found, and the Middle East is about to explode in a ball of fire.

That's the simple plot. The book is nowhere near that simple. Tied in with the basic plot is the CIA's search for a terrorist, Abu Nazer. Nobody knows who he is, or where he is. But the CIA's getting close. And he's somehow involved with the tablet and it's re-discovery.

Every time you meet a character in this book, you start to wonder who they really are, and what they're really after. That's how complicated things get in this book. The Identity Factor is one of the best spy/thriller novels I've read in a while, just for that reason. Too often, you know exactly what's going on a quarter of the way through the book, and that makes wading through the rest a real challenge. But in The Identity Factor, you're really not sure until the final chapter what actually is going on, and who is who. And yet Turner does this without it seeming contrived.

The Identity Factor is a fast-paced book that you're going to have a hard time putting down. I highly recommend it.

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