Jack Olsen has always been a favorite of mine. When I was a teenager and I first read Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me" it started me off on a true crime binge that lasted for years. From there, I hit up "Helter Skelter" by Vincent Bugliosi, Blind Faith by Joe McGinnis, and a large number of Jack Olsen books.
Mr. Olsen's books always stood out to me because of their usual focus on the families of the victims instead of the perpetrators and this book is no different. The Salt of the Earth in this case refers to Elaine Gere, mother of Brenda, a missing 12 year old girl. There was nothing this woman could not do. A mother of 3, wife of an alcoholic, and then mother of a missing girl, later found murdered-she's an amazing person. The effects this abduction had on the Gere family cannot be underestimated, but I won't get into more of that here, as it should be related to you by the author and narrator.
The one issue I had was that I would have liked to have learned a little more about the early life of the suspect/perpetrator. Even to this day, there isn't much information available about the guy on the internet. Maybe it's just something in me that thinks if we knew more about how this guy grew up and went wrong, perhaps we could learn to recognize these signs and prevent such things in the future. I could just be naive about that, I admit the possibility.
I think the narrator, Mr. Pierce, did an excellent job. There were a number of times during this story where my eyes welled up and I felt SO BAD for this family. I often wondered if the narrator ever choked up and had to do a retake.
If you're a fan of sympathetic but honest true crime stories, you could do so much worse than Salt of the Earth. This terrible crime was presented with all its horrific effects on the immediate and extended family, and the entire community. It's an unflinching look at a horrible crime and how it branches out in every direction. But it's also a look at a strong, strong woman and family and how they came through such a tragedy. For that alone, this book is worth a read and/or listen.
Highly recommended for fans of true crime.
A free copy of this audiobook was provided in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*