☆☆➹⁀☆ 3 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
Scott Miller has everything he’s ever hoped for. He has a successful marriage to Jessie, a stunningly beautiful, creative woman. His seventeen-year-old daughter, Ashley, is both gorgeous and intelligent, and has just been accepted to the University of Notre Dame, where Scott received his PhD. He has a comforting home in the woods, and a fulfilling career as a college professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He’s blissful, and at peace, until it all comes shattering down.
Ashley is kidnapped. The scene of the abduction is horrific and bloody, and the police are convinced she couldn’t have survived. They accuse her boyfriend, Brandon, of Ashley’s murder. He declares his innocence, and claims that a masked man who entered his house and overwhelmed them both took Ashley. No one believes Brandon.
Then the bodies of three other missing girls are discovered, all bearing the mark of a known serial killer the FBI has been hunting for years. Evidence mounts. As Special Agent James Duncan tracks the Hail Mary Killer, Scott and Jessie try to move on with their lives. But they can’t shake the feeling that Ashley may still be alive, and that the time for saving their only daughter is quickly running out.
In the best tradition of literature and suspense, Jackson Paul Baer has weaved a heartfelt tale of one family’s struggle to survive after a despicable evil wrenches them apart.
The Earth Bleeds Red is a haunting tale of a parent’s worst nightmare. It is intended to be a mystery or thriller; however, I think it crosses several genres including, Christian fiction, family drama, police procedural, and general fiction.
The premise of The Earth Bleeds Red is unique, and the plot points are excellent. Author Jackson Paul Baer spends nearly half of the book setting up his story by telling his readers about his main characters and their daily life. While the depiction of daily life very much spells out that Scott, Jesse and Ashley Miller are the perfect, loving family, the details bogged down the pace of the story.
The story is laid out well, and it easily flows between Scott Miller’s first-person POV to the third-person telling of the serial killer’s back story. While Scott is telling the story of his family—both before and after his daughter’s disappearance—the dialogue seemed affected at times. Since I listened to rather than reading this story, this could be a result of the narration as much as the prose.
Several plot points were beyond difficult to believe, especially surrounding Ashley’s disappearance and her resulting condition (I won’t spoil the story with details, except to note the medical improbability of Ashley’s physical and emotional state at the end of the book). The final trip home for the family also involves some suspension of disbelief in regards to hospital rules regarding just-released patients driving themselves home, but that is a much smaller point of contention for me than that of Ashley’s condition.
As a thriller, The Earth Bleeds Red fell flat for me. As a family drama or Christian fiction, the author reached me emotionally. The Miller family goes through the trials of Job but maintains their faith! Their parish priest is above and beyond supportive. There were moments in the book that brought tears to my eyes. My heart broke for Scott and Jesse at several scenes—the first one being the book title tie in. There are strong messages about faith, “stranger danger” and distracted driving.
I didn’t care for the narration of the audiobook; I’d recommend reading the book over listening to it.
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