#BookReview - Soot by Andrew Martin

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home - stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey's death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade - for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist's last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor's prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge be…

Book Review - Blood Moon by John David Bethel



On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors. Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.

 Inspired by a true story of kidnapping, torture, extortion and murder the novel gives the reader a vivid look at true evil as well as courage and the will to live.  The novel includes a Foreword by the only surviving victim of the crime and an Afterword by the private investigator who was instrumental in solving the case.  There is also an addendum with pages from the original deposition given by the PI to the prosecuting and defense attorneys.

Blood Moon's foreword is written by Marc Schiller and is a remarkable brief account of the ordeal he endured after being kidnapped and held captive for a month. It is his story that John David Bethel has adapted in to a work of fiction for Blood Moon - and what a work of fiction it is, tense, brutal and gripping.
There isn't much in the way of a gradual build up to Blood Moon, after an ominous prologue we are almost immediately thrust into the action as Recidio Suarez (the Marc Schiller character) is violently kidnapped, beaten up, blindfolded, then thrust into a van before being taken to an unknown destination where he is forced into the small box where he will eventually spend much of his time while a prisoner of these evil men. What follows, knowing it is based on a true story, is deeply disturbing. While not a stranger to books that portray the worst people are capable of, the depiction of the torture -  both physical and mental - inflicted on Suarez means Blood Moon is one of the most unsettling books I've read. It's also a compelling read, although I knew from the description that Suarez would eventually escape I was glued to the pages waiting for his ordeal to be over. However, even after his release from the hands of his captors, Suarez is still at the mercy of others. Blood Moon continues to really stir the emotions - the frustration and anger as the authorities refuse to believe he is the victim of a terrifying crime, the very visceral fear that he and his loved ones are still at terrible risk once his former kidnappers learn he is still alive and the ominous dread and revulsion felt as we realise the extent of their greed and their shocking blood lust.
If Blood Moon was purely a work of fiction it would still be a tense and often upsetting read, as it was inspired by a real life crime it is also a reminder of not only of the evil people can do but also of the courage and fortitude that can be found in the most unlikely of us. In many ways it is a bleak story but it is also an absorbing record of how a man survived against all odds. My grateful thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this uniquely intriguing and dramatic thriller in return for my review.

John David Bethel can be found on Twitter as @betheljd and his website can be found here.

About the Author

John David Bethel was born in Palo Alto, California and spent a career in politics and government as a communications strategist & speechwriter for Members of Congress and Cabinet officers. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two very spoiled dogs and writes novels, the first of which, Evil Town was published in 2012, followed by Blood Moon in 2016.

Comments

  1. Sounds a fascinating, if hard, read

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    1. They say truth is stranger than fiction - judging by this it can also be much darker...

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