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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Martyrs al-Sabra by Dan M. Kalin is one of the best books I have ever read. What a remarkable thriller and what a talented writer! Let me begin by saying I usually avoid really long books, especially those involving politics and terrorism. So many of them spend copious amounts of time padding the pages with the backstories about each character, consequently slowing down the plot and testing reader patience. But that’s not the way Dan M. Kalin writes. From the moment he introduces us to the mysterious “Hammer” and the stunning Nayla, as they wait, like millions of Americans to see the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections, we are trying to figure out exactly who they are. By the time we find out, we are so emotionally invested in what they are doing and why, we are holding our breaths as we turn those many pages looking for answers and finding more and more twists, turns and surprises.
The Hammer and his team are planning an act of terrorism that, if successful, will double the number of deaths seen in the 911 horror. Their plot takes months of careful team preparation, involves a wealthy, self-important Saudi prince with an itchy trigger finger and a beautiful woman engaged in adulterous sex with the husband of the newly elected female president. By the time the big catastrophe is scheduled to occur, FBI agents are scrambling to locate the Hammer, identify the many snipers randomly killing or injuring Americans, including children, and desperately seeking a way to prevent the pending massive loss of life.
The tension in Martyrs al-Sabra never stops rising. Nor does it end after the big event takes place. It’s followed by another series of even more gripping events all brilliantly set in motion by the Hammer. His commitment to his cause justifies his every action and even love cannot deter him from achieving his goals. Can anyone stop the Hammer? Kalin’s writing style is tightly edited, giving readers only what they need to know and keeping them forever in suspense. The plentiful use of dialogue keeps the pace moving swiftly. Friendship and love are explored through the key characters’ actions and words, while the occasional poke at the unnamed Tweeting president prior to 2020 is welcome comic relief.
Martyrs al-Sabra provided everything this reader enjoys in good book and more. The best news is that Dan M. Kalin is already writing the sequel to this novel and his closing chapter gives us a hint of what’s ahead for the Hammer in that sequel. Dare I say I can’t wait to read it, along with another book Kalin plans to release in 2019 titled Pandora’s Children. Bring them on Dan! If they’re anything like Martyrs al-Sabra, they’ll be on my bucket list.