Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blood Moon by John David Bethel

Review by E.J. Hammon
 
Based on the actual kidnapping and torture of Marc Schiller in Miami, Florida, Blood Moon is a fictionalized retelling of his story. The action begins shortly after several body parts are found in a fountain by a dog walker. We are then propelled directly into the brutal abduction and attempted murder of Miami resident, Recidio Suarez. Having built his wholesale food company into a multi-million dollar enterprise, he attracts the notice of local thugs. Their leader, Blaine Nesbit, turns Suarez’s business partner against him and a plan is set in motion to kidnap him. Blaine and Dario intend to steal all of his money in the guise of what will seem like legitimate business transactions. Despite attempts to hide their identities, Recidio immediately recognizes Blaine from past interactions and his business partner, Dario Pedrajo. Suarez is held in a warehouse and forced to sleep in a cardboard box over a thirty day period. During that time, his kidnappers make him sign legal documents and write out checks to them, so that he is left with nothing. They regularly beat him and chop off three fingers from his left hand in an attempt to keep him under control. Their plan goes awry when, after pushing him off a ledge, Recidio survives. His attorney makes it well known that Recidio will get his money back and put them in prison. Eventually, Recidio’s demure and soft-spoken wife, Carolina, reaches out to a local cartel to put her husband’s kidnappers in their place. The ending of the book is bloody and much more fiction that reality.
 
I found the book itself well-written and definitely not for the faint of heart. Bethel writes with intelligence and can paint a picture with words. I felt like I could see the interior of the warehouse and experience the crushing blows raining down on our protagonist during his kidnapping. The writing was so visual that it became very hard to read, not for how it was written, but for the subject matter. Though I frequently read a great many true crime books, imagining the torture of this man was highly uncomfortable. The drama after Recidio is sent to his death was fast-paced and enjoyable. Some of the decisions the characters made were questionable. I had a problem with Recidio’s wife, Carolina, becoming a mercenary to avenge her husband. I realize this book was a fictional account of an actual crime, but bringing a one-dimensional character to the forefront out of nowhere was hard to follow. If Carolina had been described earlier in the book a bit more, I would have found her later introduction more palatable. Also, when Recidio’s attorney confronted his tormenters, it felt forced. What victim wants to make their attackers aware of their intentions before being given the chance to strike out against them? Overall, the book was a fast read and kept me on my seat. Though the ending was satisfying, it could have been made more realistic and followed the actual story closer. That being said, I would read more of Bethel’s work, if only for the intense and colorful language he pens with ease.