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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
We witness a return to Liberia in West Africa as Daniel V Meier’s hero Ken Verrier and his wife Sam take a month’s trip to buy diamonds to finance their future back in the United States. The country is run by the descendants of people of color who had returned to Africa as free people, referred to as Americo-Liberians, who comprised the government and all services – in effect a ruling class. When the Verriers arrive, they are unaware of the tensions boiling below the surface. Since they are familiar with Liberia and the typical way of life in developing countries, Ken agrees to run the local aircraft hire company for an old and valued friend for a couple of months. In the following weeks, the only disruption is coping with Bao, their adopted monkey – the locals are eying up the bushmeat. But then the people rise up against William Tolbert’s government, and the killing begins.
In both books, The Dung Beetles of Liberia and this sequel, Blood Before Dawn, author Daniel V Meier captures the essence of Africa. It’s a continent that is both majestic and undeniably cruel. It’s the battlefield where the clash between foreign influence with western ideals of life and a fair standard of living, tribalism, lack of compassion, minimal sanctity of life, and belief in witchcraft meet and struggle. Meier throws the Americans into this mix, who are worried that either China or Russia is gaining inroads into an area they wish to influence, and this lights the touch paper to the revolution. No one is safe; men’s basest behaviors are unleashed, destroying lives and livelihoods.
The mindsets in developing countries are almost incomprehensible to anyone who has not lived there. I have enormous respect for this author who has drilled down to the truth and presented it as it is. The story itself takes the reader on a page-turning, fast-moving exciting ride, and I found myself holding my breath as I flew through the chapters. I can’t recommend it highly enough. As I wrote in my review for book one in the series, this is another read that will stay with me for years to come.