Book Review

Blood Moon by John David Bethel

My second post of Mystery and Thriller Week 2017 is a review of John David Bethel’s Blood Moon, which was published by Tell-Tale Publishing in 2016.


Blood Moon opens with the abduction of Recidio Suarez – a wealthy business man living in Miami.  Taken to a warehouse, he is beaten, tortured and starved whilst his captors make him sign over everything he owns – his money, his house, his business.  They intend to leave Suarez with nothing.  He has little choice but to cooperate with their demands, and the slightest hint – genuine or imagined – of rebellion earns him additional “attention”.

Eventually, Suarez is thrown off a bridge in an attempt to make his death look like a suicide, but, against all expectation, he survives.  The novel then deals with his search for justice, made all the more difficult by the authorities who don’t believe his tale.

Blood Moon is an unusual book to review, because it is based upon true events.  There is a prologue written by Marc Schiller who was subjected to treatment similar to that suffered by Suarez in Bethel’s novel.  I have to say that, had this simply been a work of fiction, I’m not sure I’d have found the story feasible – the way in which Suarez is treated doesn’t entirely make sense, and it’s the sort of thing that I would have found frustrating.  I’m all up for fiction, but I find that if I can’t “buy it” then I don’t always enjoy it.

Knowing that this is based upon real events, however, put an entirely different spin on things, and I sat morbidly fascinated and horrified at the treatment Suarez receives at the hands of the the psychopathic individuals holding him captive.  In the prologue, Schiller points out that:

Truth is often stranger than fiction.

and so it proves to be the case here.  Needless to say, Blood Moon isn’t a novel for the faint of heart – it is gruesome in places, and whilst I’m not particularly squeamish, I did feel a little uncomfortable at times whilst reading this.

Suarez’s treatment by the authorities also stays true to the real-life events upon which the tale is based, and this made the story all the more shocking for the way in which the case was handled.  Whilst I’m sure that this is extremely atypical of any law enforcement agency, it is disturbing to think that a case would sound so outlandish – and it does – that it might not even be investigated.  Even the barest scratching at the surface here would have revealed a few things that didn’t add up, and would have prompted further enquiries.

This is a somewhat different read for me, and not something I would normally have picked up.  I did enjoy it, however, despite some of the more unpleasant contents.  It’s difficult to know how much Bethel imagined versus what happened to Schiller, but the thought of anyone going through even a fraction of this is horrifying.

Many thanks to John David Bethel for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


  1. I feel the same way, when you don’t believe something could happen in real life… eye roll and might not be able to like it that much!

    1. Yes, exactly. And this was strange, because I knew that the events here, or something not too dissimilar, had actually happened. Some things you just can’t make up.

    2. Please see my comments below. I should also have mentioned that in addition to talking extensively with the real-life victim and the private investigator to gather facts about the crime, I also used court records and depositions by most of those involved.

  2. I very much appreciate the time you took to review the novel. To clear up a few questions you had: the details of the kidnapping, torture, extortion and murders (and attempted murder) are the product of extended conversations with the real-life victim and the private investigator who was instrumental in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The details thereof are very, very close to non-fiction and, indeed, are hard to believe, and often unpleasant. The difficulties you and others have believing them explains — in part — why the police discounted the story the victim and the PI provided. The second half of the novel is largely fiction. In the final analysis, I think Blood Moon can be viewed as a tale of courage; a quest for justice; and a story of good versus evil. It might help if you take a look at the research section on Blood Moon available at Again, thank you for your review.

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