Publication Date: January 29, 2018
In The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, Scott Miller’s daughter, Ashley, is kidnapped and presumed dead. Her boyfriend is the only witness and is, to the police, the obvious suspect until three other missing girls are found dead bearing the mark of a serial killer known to the FBI. With the clock ticking on Ashley’s life, will she be found in time?
The author gifted me a copy of this audiobook in exchange for my review.
The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer deals with every parents’ worst nightmare, the disappearance and presumed death of a child. The novel starts with a deep dive into daily life with Scott emphasizing how integral his daughter was to the perfection and happiness of the family as a whole. Of course, Ashley’s boyfriend, Brandon, is seen as an interloper. For some crazy reason, Scott even knows his GPA which he relates to the reader as a sign of his unworthiness. Jessie, to her credit, is less concerned and Baer uses her as a balance to a man who is, frankly, a little annoying to listen to at first.
There were little things I noticed at first that led me to believe that this would not be quite the thriller novel I expected. Scott is very precise about certain things which, I suppose, is a credit to the author’s attention to detail. There’s an insistence that we know Scott and Jessie were married when Ashley came along. There are little diversions into events that paint pictures of characters we will come to meet but led this listener to think that perhaps Mr. Baer was just in love with the process. There was a lot of unnecessary setups that could have been cut significantly. The feeling of the exposition, however; was intentional. The evil shook them. Hit them at their core and, had I not read the description, their world falling apart both makes sense and comes as a shock. A talk with Ashley about an assignment morphs into a Jenga memory and then into a dive of an author the character likes. Interesting to read but it made for a tough listen. I had to rewind a few times to remember where certain diversions had come from especially once the action really began. The first 35ish% of the book and the rest are completely different stories with the latter hitting the thriller genre.
I think part of the problem in my failure to engage with the portion of the book that established the characters was in its delivery from narrator Dan Carroll. The even and precise delivery is going to seem a virtue to most listeners but it simply provided this listener an invitation to zone out. As the story picked up, the delivery became more natural where it had been initially hard to follow. There is a heavy faith-based subtext. Scott finds his interest in religion renewed as the hunt for his daughter is on, as would be realistic in a situation that seems hopeless. There is certainly a focus in The Earth Bleeds Red on the emotional impact of a missing child and while there are some surprises this is where Baer’s attention to detail hits hard.
Taken as two novels, I’d give one star to the family story and four stars to the thriller story. The thriller story was so interesting and poignant that it packs an emotional punch. Dan Carroll does a good job of narration and at 8 hours broken up, the book makes a good walking or exercise companion. If you like literary thrillers, give this one a shot. The start is slow but the build-up and action are worth the slog.
|Title||The Earth Bleeds Red|
|Length||8 hours and 41 minutes|
|Released||January 29, 2018|
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