3 out of 4 stars
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Two children Abby and Jemal set St. Miriam’s Church on fire and then use that opportunity to try to escape from Samuel, whose orders they had followed. Samuel is a big, intimidating, conniving, and powerful man who lives in the Gurage Mountains in Ethiopia. He is known as the Hyena Man because of his ability to sound and act like a hyena. Many people think he is a mystic healer blessed by Allah. A lot of parents were coerced into giving him their children, believing he was teaching them about Islam. However, Samuel was training them to be his army and to worship and fear himself. Because of his hatred of anything foreign or Christian related, he has contrived a scheme that will bring about the end of a missionary-based charity and children’s school. Having Abby and Jemal think they are getting away is crucial to his plan.
David grew up in Ethiopia but moved to London years ago, where he tried to forget about his traumatic past. However, he is compelled to go home and confront his demons when his mother becomes ill with Alzheimer’s disease. While there, David helps a young man who was beaten by the police and left for dead at a local park. Deciding to stay in Ethiopia for a while, he gets a job at the children’s school.
Julie, an American, is trying to overcome her own heartaches and focus on helping others. She is a psychologist and, after her son entered college, moved to Ethiopia and volunteered at the children’s school.
Will Samuel be capable of destroying the school and ending the missionary work?
Told from the third-person point of view, The Hyena Man: Horn of Africa Suspense Series Book One by Scott Douglas Martell is a thrilling, action-packed suspense novel. It kept my attention from the prologue until the end of the book. The plot was my favorite aspect of the novel. I did not want to put it down. Although the first book in the series, it is a standalone story with most of the questions answered. Mr. Martell and his wife operate a charity in Ethiopia, focusing on children and families. He taught for Project Mercy in the Yetebon Village in the Gurage Mountains for 12 years. Therefore, he is familiar with the area and what it is like to live there. His exciting and descriptive prose transports the readers into Ethiopia, so they can see the hardships and the challenges the people face, including too many corrupt officials, among other things. We also see their resiliency, faith, and love for family.
Most of the characters, even the secondary ones, are believable and well developed. We can imagine the pain, fear, and hope that each one has. The exception to this is Samuel. I wanted additional information about Samuel’s character and wished it was fleshed out a little more. What made him so evil?
An attraction exists between David and Julie. Although both of them have been hurt in the past and don’t wish a relationship, it is difficult to ignore the magnetism between the two.
Faith in God and Jesus represents a strong theme in this novel. It is this faith that helps to overcome many hardships. Non-Christians may not appreciate the book as much as Christians would.
I would love giving this book 4 stars as I found it mesmerizing. However, I encountered too many flaws in the form of punctuation and grammatical errors. It could use a professional editor. This was my least favorite aspect. Therefore, it achieves a rating of 3 out of 4 stars, with one star taken away for the errors. Readers who like suspense novels and/or stories about faith, and would like to learn more about living in Ethiopia should appreciate this story. Non-Christians may not enjoy it. Only one mild profanity and no sex were seen in the book.
The Hyena Man
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