Blood Moon by John David Bethel #BookReview

Blood Moon def

What’s it about?

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.

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Review

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I’ve had this novel Blood Moon for quite some time already and I have no idea why I haven’t read it sooner really because when the author contacted me I was immediately interested when I heard it was based on true events. Nothing prepared me for the horrendous ordeal the main character, Redicio Suarez, had to go through while abducted though. The preface is written by the true victim of these crimes and I thought at first that it’d be easier to read, maybe I was even a bit disappointed I already knew how the story was going to end, but I had to revise this opinion quite soon! I was nothing but relieved to know that this man would survive ultimately. Reading about the time he was held captive was in some ways worse than many thrillers I’ve read and you wouldn’t even be able to come up with this if it was fiction. These abductors were crossing the line of human dignity in every way possible, they were monsters. If I hadn’t read the preface I wouldn’t have expected him to have survived really, it was that brutal. I had no idea where the line was drawn between fact and fiction and it felt so outlandish that even part of it was true, it left me wondering and occupied my thoughts largely throughout this story.

The first thing I did when I finished this was look up what I could find about Marc Schilling in an attempt to recount some of the facts and it turns out that plenty of what he went through wasn’t made up. Blood Moon was really intense to read and the accounts of duct tape around his face, being in the dark all the time and having to sign documents without seeing a thing actually turned out to be real. I got chills while reading this but knowing afterwards that these parts weren’t fiction and did actually happen made my blood run cold. The way his abduction ended was quite spectacular although the true version of events would have suited just as well. The first part was largely a description of every single thing he was subjected to, along with the backstory in how they started to get the idea to plan all of this. I can’t believe someone would do all this and go to these lengths to get everything, not wanting to leave a single penny.

His escape from the money grabbing vultures who abducted him didn’t go how I’d anticipated at all and you might think it would put an end to his nightmare but even then it continues. While he should be protected by the police, the bad people put away behind bars, that apparently is a storyline that only occurs in fiction stories. It was sad and frustrating to read that he had to go through all of this and then wasn’t believed, even ridiculed and yes in another way but a victim once again. This time personal grudges were dragged into it as well and unfortunately he’s right in the middle of it.

I shook my head quite a few times while reading. At times it’s just so unbelievable, or maybe I almost didn’t want to believe this could be so close to the truth. I felt it was a bit of a stretch that his lawyer would do the legwork the police should have been doing. I wanted to shout as well that it was dangerous what he was doing but then I also wanted to get some justice, some closure for him so that he didn’t have to be afraid anymore. I just can’t imagine what that does to a person.

Blood Moon was a tense and quite violent read at times so I wouldn’t recommend this one for the faint at heart. There’s no gussying up and I can assure you that the writing isn’t suggestive so it is all due to the facts and his account without embelishments that it was so heart-breaking to read at times.

If you want to know more about what Marc Schiller, the true victim, went through, then you should definitely read this book. For your info: there was also a movie made based on the story that many have probably seen (I know I did) but doesn’t do justice to him at all. I can’t believe either they actually made a comedy out of this, there’s really nothing to laugh after reading this. You can check out an article with more info here.

I received a free copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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31 thoughts on “Blood Moon by John David Bethel #BookReview

  1. Great review and thanks for the link for more info. Wow, this does sound so far-fetched I can see why you had a hard time knowing this was based on true events. It’s scary, the things some people are capable of but what a survivor Schiller is!

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    • Thank you Janel! It is such a tragic story indeed and he’s lucky to made it out alive. Some things went a little too far in the novel (there’s another couple targeted after he was gone which was just a scenario for Hollywood) and I did miss a bit of feelings and thoughts in the novel but overall it was interesting. True crime always has me intrigued 🙂

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      • Actually, in the true crime on which the novel is based, another couple was kidnapped and killed (as closely depicted in the novel). It was the murder of this couple that finally convinced the police that Schiller was telling the truth about his abduction and torture, and started the investigation in earnest.

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      • I worked closely with the real life victim — Marc Schiller — and the private investigator largely responsible for solving the case — Ed DuBois — to create a realistic depiction of Schiller’s ordeal. My more “creative” endeavors focused on the perpetrators of the crime in trying to realistically capture their psychoses and what allowed them to commit their vile acts. This was a challenge as I had never dealt with characters like this before in my writing, and had to go to some dark places to draw them realistically. Schiller and DuBois said that I did manage to do the job as you saw in the Foreword and Afterword that each man provided for the novel. The second half of the book that is devoted to how Schiller’s wife responds upon learning what is happening to her husband was the true “fictional” contribution to the tale. Here again, both Schiller and DuBois found this part of BLOOD MOON satisfying, so I felt confident the reader would as well.

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    • Hard to believe, indeed. But not at all far-fetched as this Foreword written by Marc Schiller, the true life victim of the crime on which the novel is based, makes clear:

      Novels spring from an author’s imagination and are brought to life by his creativity. Readers enjoy fiction as a way to escape while often admiring the writer’s ability to weave a believable tale. Blood Moon is unique. It is indeed a work of fiction, but is based on true events, events that give meaning to the adage: Truth is often stranger than fiction.

      After reading this novel, most readers will be hard-pressed to accept that anything as written in these pages could happen. That assumption would be very wrong. I know because I am the one who experienced and survived many of he traumatic events described in Blood Moon.

      My kidnapping, torture, extortion and attempted murder occurred in 1994 and 1995. When I managed to escape and went to the police, my story was dismissed. How could I possibly be alive? The police accused me of concocting everything. They ignored all my efforts to convince them that there were psychopaths loose in our community who might repeat their crime. Sure enough, another couple was kidnapped and the details of this crime fit those I had provided about my own abduction.Unfortunately, these two young people were not as fortunate as I. They were brutally murdered.

      My month long stay in what I called “Hotel Hell” – which the author of Blood Moon captures with chilling accuracy – was filled with physical and mental torture, humiliation and starvation. Once captured, and soon after the physical abuse began, my first thoughts were how to shelter my family from danger. After securing their safety, and realizing I would not be rescued, my captors and I engaged in a chess match of sorts.

      I recognized that if I had any chance of survival it would depend on my mental state and my determination to survive, no matter how much abuse they dished out. Here again, the author does a remarkable job of recreating the pain, horror and sheer inhumanity that was the order of the day every minute of every single day for a month.My only bargaining chip was my material possessions. I offered them everything I owned even though in the back of my mind I always knew the odds of surviving were extremely slim. After all, dead men tell no tales.

      My captors were cruel cold-blooded psychopaths and sadists driven by their lust for money. Daniel Lugo,the leader and a narcissist, was incapable of believing he could fail, which freed him to commit his crimes without concern about being detected. His only loyalty was to himself. Lugo’s lieutenant was Noel Doorbal, a sadist who enjoyed experimenting with different methods of inflicting pain. Jorge Delgado worked for and betrayed me, and proved an easy target for Lugo to manipulate. He was envious and resentful, a deadly combination that morphed into evil, an evil that I could never have imagined during the years I mentored him and taught him my business.It was Delgado who pushed Lugo and Doorbal to kill me. These men are skillfully brought to life in Blood Moon providing the reader with chilling insight into the cruelty that men are capable of when they are either programmed for evil or capable of committing it when guided by evil people.

      After surviving the attempt to kill me – and winding up in the hospital a battered, stitched together figure – I did find one individual who believed my story (with some hesitation at the outset), and he became my ally in bringing the criminals to justice. Private detective Ed Dubois tracked down the criminals, and compiled enough information to convince the authorities that a crime had indeed been committed against me. Dubois’ participation and his courage are relayed in exciting fashion in Blood Moon as is the tale of our frustrating efforts to convince the police that we were telling them the truth about a horrible crime.

      I have moved on from those events and feel blessed that I was given a second chance. I have forgiven those who committed those heinous acts and I live life in awe and gratitude, and enjoy each day as if it were my last.

      As you read this book, if you find yourself wondering if the author has jumped too far across the line between reality and fiction, think again. Although truth is often stranger than fiction, in Blood Moon the reader will find a chilling novel that touches on the truth in a very real, even horrible, way.

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  2. Wow this sounds so intense! I am a sucker for true stories so I will be keeping an eye on this as it is right up my ally and your review is brilliant! What an ordeal that you actually benefited from knowing he survived in advance! Thank you for adding the link, it is a great touch 🙂

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  3. Wow, what the victim goes through sound absolutely horrible. I do enjoy a book like this when the author does an exceptional job in illustrating all the horrors in a way that it just makes you question if it’s even real or not; only to later find out it’s actually all true. Sounds really insane. Great review, Inge!

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    • The details of the story came to me from Ed DuBois. Ed runs a security firm, Investigators,Inc.in Miami, and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the true-life victim of the crimes on which Blood Moon is based.

      Initially,Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.” Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script. I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent it could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.

      I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and by Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.” Schiller’s survival of kidnapping and 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured,and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted, was a story that was too compelling to ignore. My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing closely enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured, and how Ed worked skillfully and tirelessly to solve the crime. Both men agreed and were very supportive,even consenting to write the Foreword (Schiller) and Afterword (DuBois).

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  4. Great review Inge. Reading the blurb and then getting to the part where you mention that the book is inspired by true events was a bit confusing at first because of how horrible Marc’s experience sounds. Just read the article about the movie. I can’t believe that they didn’t even involve him and then actually made a comedy out of it. That is terrible.

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  5. Wow.. i think what shocks me most is that there’s such a contrast in between the book and the movie… I have seen pain and Gain, but never realized it was based on true events, even though turned into comedy…
    Sadly, it’s always the case that you think you’ve seen it all and read about it all, but we’re far from it and this book based on true crime sound unreal! Knowing how much truth there is in the story would probably give me a hard attack reading it… hehehe…

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