Martyrs al-Sabra

Fiction - Thriller - Terrorist
544 Pages
Reviewed on 02/03/2019
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Author Biography

Dan Kalin is a former management consultant, current publisher, and occasional author. He can be contacted through

Dan resides in Melbourne, Florida in a three-hurricane-tested house under the seemingly constant direction of two herding canines, Annie and Stella.

    Book Review

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.

K.C. Finn

Martyrs al-Sabra is a work of darkly thrilling terrorist fiction penned by author Dan M. Kalin, and forms the first book in the Martyrs series. Set in the near future as America welcomes its very first female president, her administration is immediately beset with fear as ‘The Hammer of Islam’ makes them a prime target. Reporting on these events is former Palestinian orphan Farid Monsour al-Haj, adopted into American life and encouraged to report from a Muslim perspective. His childhood friend, Justin Simons, has now become a Special Agent for the FBI, and as Justin joins the manhunt for the terrorists behind the threat, his lifelong friendship with Farid may be tested to its furthest limits.

This is such an involved, complex and well-crafted plot that I don’t want to give away too many of the intricacies and discoveries, because they are so well placed and revealed for each thrilling moment to be unveiled. Author Dan M. Kalin creates a superb story line with really believable characters who come from those cross-points of conflict where you can truly understand their misgivings and fractured loyalties in the face of extremism. Farid, in particular, is very well drawn, an empathetic figure with a lot more going on under the surface. Overall, I found Martyrs al-Sabra to be a lengthy but ultimately rewarding read with a deep level of political intrigue sure to satisfy even the most picky of plot-driven readers, but the story also has a powerful heart in its characters and the choices they have to make.

Divine Zape

Martyrs al-Sabra by Dan M. Kalin is a compelling opening in the Martyrs series. It is 2020 and the United States has just elected the first female president. But the administration and the nation are under threat from a new form of terrorism led by the mysterious Hammer of Islam. The task force led by FBI Special Agent Justin Simons is on the hunt for the terrorists. One man may be of invaluable help in solving the mystery; the Palestinian orphan raised by an American family and longtime friend of the Special Agent, the television news icon Farid Monsour al-Haj. But Farid is torn between his American culture and his Palestinian heritage, a past that thrusts him into internal conflict. Having been adopted by an American family, he is given the best education, but encouraged to keep his Palestinian roots. This background will fuel the internal conflict in the character and readers will be keen to see which side he takes.

Dan M. Kalin creates powerful characters, giving them a background that is solid. This novel will have great appeal for fans of thrillers with strong political themes. The author writes beautifully and develops a captivating story on Islamic terrorism. The villain is designed to be a shadowy figure and this creates the sense of mystery and suspense that readers look for in this kind of narrative. The plot is deftly handled, with intricacies that take readers to unexpected places and twists that are surprisingly satisfying. The plot is unpredictable and each chapter is written to keep the reader wanting to move on to the next the moment they read the last paragraph. Martyrs al-Sabra is a page-turner, a mesmerizing entry into a series I’d gladly like to see on screen.