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The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer

The Earth Bleeds Red - Jackson Paul Baer

This story is a slow pace all the way through which I wasn’t expecting for a thriller. There’s tons of detail, which I normally don’t mind, but so much of it didn’t add to the plot or character development. The extra details often added to the setting (Pacific Northwest) but even then some of the details were extraneous. I really don’t need to know how much Scott spent on each meal or trip to the book store or on tips and I really don’t need to know how much he got back in change.

The thriller part of the tale eventually comes along. Ashley, the 17-year-old daughter of Scott and Jessie, goes missing and initially the cops have a suspect in custody. Instead of having a thrilling hunt for the real culprit, the Hail Mary serial killer, we have a lot about what the parents are going through. At first, I thought this was an interesting and thoughtful take on this kidnapping. Alas, things were pretty drawn out and gone over again and again.

Finally, in the last third of the book we get a look into the life of the serial killer and what has happened with Ashley these many months while her parents have been grieving. We do get a little thrilling police action for a few short scenes but even then there’s so much detail that things get bogged down easily.

Nearly the entire tale is told through Scott’s voice. He’s still deeply in love with Jessie and he loves being a father. He’s very proud of his daughter who will soon be going off to college. I liked Scott’s character and I felt that he was three dimensional. The other characters in the story are pretty much one dimensional. Both Jessie and Ashley are beautiful…. and eventually we learn something more about them. But being beautiful seems to be their main job in this story. They both have some humor and Ashley puts up a fight with her attacker later in the story but those aren’t the character traits that are stressed. Sigh….. Then there’s that little side thing where Jessie gets ticked at Scott because a coworker gave him a surprise kiss. Scott wasn’t flirting, didn’t expect it, and avoided that character afterwards yet Jessie was still upset for weeks. Ugh! Jessie was a nitwit.

There’s plenty of Christian themes and going to church and trying to live a Christian life stuff in this book. I’m not into religious fiction in general, though I don’t mind a character or two having religion be a part of who they are. In this case, I really feel this story is Christian Fiction first and Thriller genre somewhere down the list. For me, this aspect of the tale was overbearing and boring.

I did like that the story shows how people can get past horrible things. The cast in this story is small and each character has something terrible in their past or that they experience during the story. Jessie’s and Scott’s daughter is kidnapped. Ashley has to go through being held against her will, etc. The Father at their church has a significant event in his past. Even the killer went through a terrible event as a kid (though he hasn’t dealt with that in a healthy way). Even as much as I liked this aspect of the story, I felt that it totally glossed over a significant repeated attack. Ashley’s captor wanted her pregnant and yet this repeated rape isn’t even talked about. So, to keep things real, I would have appreciated seeing Ashley’s feelings on this.

All told, I struggled to get through this story. It was slow, I often felt that I was being preached at, the women had no depth, and the thrill was taken out of the thriller part of the tale by so much detail. 2.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Dan Carroll was very good at Scott’s voice. However, Carroll had a small range of voices. His female voices almost always lacked femininity. With more than one character in a scene, I had to listen carefully to keep track of who was talking. He did well with the myriad of emotions in this story. There were no technical issues with the recording. 3/5 stars.