Blood Before Dawn (The Dung Beetles of Liberia, Book 2)
By: Daniel V. Meier Jr.
Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books
Publication Date: December 2021
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: October 12, 2021
Deep in the West African country of Liberia, where corruption and unrest reign supreme, author Daniel V. Meier Jr. returns with another riveting story in The Dung Beetles of Liberia series, Blood Before Dawn.
It’s 1979, and twelve years have passed since Ken Verrier left Liberia and returned to America where he settled, with his wife, Sam. Together, they decide to return to Liberia, but only for a short time, to make a quick chunk of cash by purchasing (and then selling) diamonds that will eventually assist Ken in his private airline endeavor. It all seemed to be an easy and quick idea, so it came as a major shock to them when they got caught in the middle of an angry mob on their second day of their trip. Little did Ken and Sam know that they had just returned to the country in the middle of extreme political unrest. One of President Tolbert’s cabinet members raised taxes on rice, which in turn caused rioting by the common people. Things manage to settle down for a while after the president agrees to lower the tax (but he remains despised by most of his country), and Ken gets talked into remaining in the country a little longer than planned to assist an old friend in managing his private aircraft company. However, tensions between President Tolbert and his administration continue to churn and fester amongst the citizens ultimately leading to a bloody coup. But will Ken and Sam be able to leave the country before getting permanently caught in this horrific uprising, or is it too late?
Daniel V. Meier, Jr. has written another compelling historical fiction narrative in Blood Before Dawn. Readers hit the ground running in the beginning scenes (along with the main characters, much to their horror) while the suspenseful, and harrowing story of the corrupt political environment and unrest in Liberia unfolds and doesn’t subside until the shockingly messy conclusion.
It is evident that the author is a master of writing in the historical fiction genre, whether he is spinning a tale partly from his personal experiences as seen in this series, or with his other equally engaging historical fiction works. Readers are not just told a wild, fictional story that might have some basis in history, but they’re presented with an entertaining story expertly woven throughout real events in the tumultuous history of Liberia.
After reading a plethora of books over the years, this reviewer considers a story to be of great quality when, not only do the characters and storyline remain in my mind long after its conclusion, and my subsequent journey onto another book, but when a story inspires me to do further research into the subjects, events and characters presented. Blood Before Dawn is exactly that kind of novel; it will not only linger in your thoughts, but it also has the potential to awaken your thirst for knowledge.
It’s 1979, and Ken has returned to Liberia. It’s been ten years since his last adventure in Africa, and now he’s on a mission to obtain uncut diamonds to support his air carrier business. Immediately, Ken and his wife, Sam, are hit with a tidal wave of sweaty bodies and riotous citizens storming the Executive Mansion, home of Liberia’s suppressor, President Tolbert. Liberian natives continue to grow restless with the oppression from the Congo people, and the breaking point is near.
All the while, behind the scenes, the American government is adding fuel to the fire. Two CIA agents infiltrate the Progressive Alliance of Liberia and offer them what they’ve been desperately trying to get their hands on – guns.
A storm brews and tensions rise as Sam and Ken try to get out of Liberia as fast as they can.
In Blood Before Dawn, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. brings to life a story of innocent bystanders caught up in the terror of espionage and revolution. Based on true events, readers will be captivated by this sequel to the award-winning: The Dung Beetles of Liberia.
Meier is a powerful writer and will immediately capture your attention on page 1. As a reader, I personally am afraid of the writer that loves to describe everything from the shingles on the roof, down to the pebble in their protagonist’s shoe. Meier, however, has created a beautiful balance between thrilling dialogue and painting his audience a detailed picture of Liberia’s dark underbelly; the turmoil, the struggles and the blood bath that grows with each chapter.
Readers may find the Liberian accent difficult to understand, but some readers may love the broken-down English that makes up the accent or they will hate having to work out every conversation. Though, I believe because Meier uses very little accent, it makes for authentic and interesting dialogue.
While I enjoyed the relentless pace of the novel, there were some things I didn’t quite understand. For example, I felt that there was an odd interaction with the CIA agents and their handler, but maybe it’s an inside joke that we, as the readers, are not supposed to understand. Essentially, the conversation goes like this: We’ll dangle a carrot in front of him, and in the off-chance, he doesn’t bite (queue agent leaning in for a theatrical, conspiratorial whisper), we have more carrots. The agents have a good chuckle and I couldn’t help but laugh along.
This is a thrilling story and was fun to read. I felt like the ending was a bit hollow but I think that this was the point. The point, in the end, was to portray the protagonist as numb. There is so much in this novel to think about and it really leaves you feeling like you had a fully engaging experience by the end. I was invested in the story and I enjoyed the adventure.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B08SJ95ZC9
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.
This assured follow up to The Dung Beetles of Liberia, Meier’s striking debut, again plunges readers into a West African nation of great wealth, inequality, corruption—and, for protagonist Ken Verrier, opportunity. At least that’s how it seems at first as Ken, with his wife Sam, returns to Liberia’s capital of Monrovia in 1979, eager to score a quick profit in the diamond business, to find riots and revolution in the streets as the nation teeters on the brink. As President Tolbert confiscates the Liberian Army’s ammunition, after soldiers refused to fire on furious citizens, Ken, a pilot, goes about securing an airplane for his diamond hunt, at every step encountering signs of Liberia’s instability and foreign nationals (Russians, Chinese, CIA) jockeying to shape its future.
Thanks to Meier’s vivid scene craft and the prevailing sense of tension, even readers not aware of the tragedies of Liberia at the dawn of the 1980s will feel the inevitable coming: an assassination, military rule, and Ken and Sam caught up in it all. Unlike many thriller authors, though, Meier doesn’t treat his setting like a mere romantic backdrop. Instead, for all the scrapes and suspense, and the excitement of rainy season plane trips and Ken;s unexpected surveillance work for the Liberian Army, the book’s beating heart is its evocation of a nation in crisis and the way that, in games of power, it’s the citizenry who suffer the most. “Life is hard and life is cheap,” Ken thinks, after watching the offhand execution of a mine worker. “It doesn’t pay to break the rules.”
Ken’s mistake, of course, is believing he’s mastered those rules and that he could engineer a big score without being compromised by the brutality. Verrier alternates between Ken’s first-person narration and third-person chapters detailing the coup and the burning of Monrovia, threads that readers will dread eventually tying together. Swift, engaging, and tragic, Blood Before Dawn is an uncommonly thoughtful and humane thriller.
Takeaway: Thriller fans who demand realism and humanity will find much to love in this novel of revolutionary Liberia.
Great for fans of: Leye Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist, Mukuka Chipanta’s Five Nights Before the Summit.
Volume 2 of the Dung Beetles of Liberia series, Blood Before Dawn, will best be enjoyed by prior readers who appreciated Volume 1's political and social adventure. This grounding will provide immediate access to the riveting continuation of events that opens here with a bang: "I’d always known that one could get into trouble just standing on a street corner, but never like this."
It's 1979. Ken Verrier and his wife Sam are returning to Liberia to buy diamonds in an effort to raise some quick and easy cash but become caught up in political struggles as a coup overthrows the Tolbert presidency and threatens their lives.Ken becomes involved in the conflict and taps CIA agents and past friends for the truth, uncovering subterfuge and gun and drug smuggling. His effort to stop them will require and test all of his special skills and knowledge. As danger escalates from all sides, Ken and Sam become embroiled in a series of confrontations that challenge their ability to survive, make the right choices, and come home together, in one piece.
Once again, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. provides a riveting, fast-paced adventure that holds its roots in real-life events while keeping the characters and action vivid.Meier employs the first-person perspective and alternates seamlessly with the third person omniscient point of view to bring all these elements into an immediate emotional realm, yet maintains an attention to historical detail. Unfolding events make the story semi-autobiographical, semi-historical, and nicely steeped in drama.
On the cusp of completing his mission in Liberia, diamonds in hand and the West African Air Service returned to profitable status, betrayal and a twist keep Sam and Ken involved and evolving. The blend of family interactions and a joyful confession immediately backed by new threats keeps suspense high. Thriller readers will be especially pleased at how Meier teases the emotional strings of tension with back-to-back conflicting emotions.
Every bit as riveting as The Dung Beetles of Liberia, Blood Before Dawn represents a captivating exploration of African political and social processes wrapped in a layer of intrigue designed to delight thriller audiences looking for reality-based adventure.
Diane Donovan, Editor Donovan's Literary Services Bookwatch
Blood Before Dawn (2) (The Dung Beetles of Liberia) by Daniel V. Meier Jr.
An impressive literary balancing act that is as entertaining as it is thoughtful…
Meier continues his The Dung Beetles of Liberia series with this enthralling installment as Ken Verrier returns to Liberia to buy diamonds. It’s April of 1979. When Ken, accompanied by his strong-willed wife, Sam, planned to return to Liberia to buy diamonds, he had no idea the country was entering a devastatingly tumultuous period of political unrest. Will he get out alive? Meier’s insights into the ways corruption, injustice, and atrocities hollow out a nation’s soul are cleareyed. His prose is intelligent, the narrative engrossing, and his unflinching forays into the African nation’s social, cultural, and political atmosphere are realistic. Along the way, he weaves in a high-profile assassination, suspense, and daring escapades, keeping readers invested. From its adrenaline-fueled opening to its surprising conclusion, this poignant novel brilliantly captures the population’s unrest and the white-hot fury as they struggle to obtain the basic necessities of life. This is a powerful story of civil unrest, corruption, and the arbitrary division between the masses.
Blood Before Dawn
(The Dung Beetles of Liberia #2)
By Daniel V. Meier Jr.