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Summary

Joe Gere said he died on the afternoon his 12-year-old daughter Brenda disappeared. It was left to Brenda's mother Elaine to sustain her stricken family, search for her missing child, and pressure the authorities for justice. From the first minutes of the investigation, suspicion fell on Michael Kay Green, a steroid-abusing "Mr. Universe" hopeful, but there was no proof of a crime, leaving police and prosecutors stymied.

Tips and sightings poured in as lawmen and volunteers combed the Cascades forest in the biggest search in Northwest history. Years passed with no sight of the blue-eyed girl or the bright clothes she'd worn on the day she disappeared, but Elaine remained undaunted.

Salt of the Earth is the true story of how one woman fought and triumphed over life-shattering violence and how she healed her family - and herself.

Salt of the Earth is the true story of a courageous woman who survived a hellish 20th-century nightmare. Mob violence, injustice, kidnapping, murder, and suicide were the black holes in the awful astronomy of Elaine Gere's life. Somehow she had to summon the courage to endure: to honor her beloved dead and to rebuild the shattered lives of the sons who depended on her strength.

Jack Olsen has been lauded for his psychological insights into the most violent criminals in such previous masterworks as Doc, The Misbegotten Son, and Predator, but he has never overlooked their victims. By viewing the world through the eyes of Elaine Gere and her devastated family, he finds the core values that enabled them not only to survive and flourish, but, in the end, to triumph.

©2016 Jack Olsen (P)2016 Evan P. Olsen

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A brilliant tale of every family's worst nightmare

What made the experience of listening to Salt of the Earth the most enjoyable?

Beautifully narrated by Kevin Pierce.

Which character – as performed by Kevin Pierce – was your favourite?

Elaine Gere

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Brenda Gere's disappearance.

Any additional comments?

A stunningly crafted book spanning the generations of a family who go through hell and back. Takes a while to get going, but it's worth the wait.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Just excellent

Thoroughly enjoyed. Excellently written tale of a families struggles after the murder of one of the children. Narration by Pierce - 100%.

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  • IndyMcDuff
  • 11-08-16

You are the proverbial 'fly on the wall' ...

In one review or another, the reviewer said, to my astonishment, that the prologue had given away the whole story ... as if it were a fiction novel. Not about this book, but another true crime book. I looked at those words in bewilderment. This is True Crime, not a suspense novel.

This book is so well done that it feels like a suspense novel. It puts you right in there with the family. Some True Crime books are told through the eyes of the police, the prosecutors or the lawyers. This book puts you more right in the midst of the family. For myself, I marveled at Elaine's incredible strength of character, love, resolve. She is not a heroine in a fictional novel, but a real woman who suffered a terrible series of tragedies but never felt sorry for herself. I think I should love to photograph her one day. Her eyes must hold the spectrum of emotions only visible in those with heart, strength, love, resolve.

Kevin Pierce is a fine narrator. His voice lets you imagine the entire scene. I have many of the books he has narrated.

Yes, I do like reading paper books...very much...but without these audio books, I'd never get a chance to go out walking for 4 miles without boredom. But I think I will have to start getting the Kindle editions as well because I want to see the spelling of the names and places.

Jack Olsen has taken facts and woven a fine tapestry. He does not sensationalize this awful deed, but he does not marginalize it either. His point of view is not pounded into your head. Only a fool would not share how Brenda foiled another prior attempt (I won't clarify).

I'm old and my memory is not that good. Don't feel sorry for me because it has its advantages. Next year I can listen to the book again as if it were the first time! :)

Enjoy the mastery of a true wordsmith with this True Crime book.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzanne
  • 08-05-16

Compelling True Crime -portrait of a family

What about Kevin Pierce’s performance did you like?

His narration was excellent. He has a tone that sounds like the actor, Tom Hanks. At first I found the pace a bit slow, but then I settled into the story. Kevin got the right balance of conveying a serious story but without a dry historical distance. He used accents for the dialogue but these were done well and didn't detract from the subject.

Any additional comments?

This is the true story of a child disappearance and the investigation to solve the crime. It starts many years in the past with the story of Elaine (the mother) and then section two rewinds to tell the background of the father. Usually I dislike books that take ages to get to the event (in this case the disappearance of teenage Brenda), but I found this worked well in this book for two reasons. Firstly because the backstory was well told and in a personal way with dialogue rather than historical distance. Secondly it gave insight into the family so that when Brenda disappeared it was easier to empathise and understand the actions of the parents.After the story reaches the crime -the disappearance and aftermath it then goes back in time and we hear about the background of the main suspect. This provides an interesting viewpoint that many crime novels miss and it helps make the suspect a real person, rather than a caricature. I felt it didn't undermine the crime or excuse it, but put things into a wider context for the listener.I found the whole story compelling and I listened almost non-stop in my spare time, finishing in a few days. The fact I wasn't aware of the outcome helped keep this a 'page turner' for me. Finally, I must mention I received a no-cost copy in exchange for a review, but don't let this influence you. This really is a great listen that I wholeheartedly recommend. It's a portrait of life and family, poverty and tragedy-not a gruesome crime /CSI novel.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Lori D. Reim
  • 22-07-16

Lots of Kevin Pierce...can't go wrong.

What did you love best about Salt of the Earth?

The narration was great and I loved the book. I really got into each of the characters and I felt that I understood all of the perspectives.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The thing I liked about this one is that it went on for a long time and really developed the storyline without getting boring or mundane.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have begun to select books just because of Kevin Pierce. He is a perfect choice for this kind of book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Arius
  • 19-04-17

Unusual Presentation Makes You Invested

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to any True Crime enthusiast. It's an unusual presentation, partly because the family history is so difficult and there's a tremendous backstory to involve the listener with the victims. You get a deeper sense of loss as the family experiences it.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I would say the mother is one of the strongest people I've heard of. She undergoes such trying and difficult times even before the true tragedy strikes.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've listened to many of his performances and this one is on par with his other books.

If you could give Salt of the Earth a new subtitle, what would it be?

Listen to Your Warning Signals

Any additional comments?

The construction of this book, as the forward states, is unusual for a True Crime. In and of itself, the approach is worthy of note, and it is uniquely appropriate for this story. It demonstrates Olsen's skill with writing a story based on how it is best written than simply adopting stories to a style.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Poppy
  • 09-05-17

A masterpiece

I've been completely immersed in this book in the two or three days it took me to listen to it.
Jack Olsen and Kevin Pierce come together to present a story I couldn't put down and despite having read dozens of his books and other true crime stories this one brought me to tears.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Toshaj
  • 30-11-16

LOVED IT

Loved how the writer told the story of love, strength, and pain. Really digs at your core.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephanie
  • 14-05-16

Great story, slow start

I would recommend this book to lovers of true crime novels, with the caveat that the first 2-plus hours are dedicated to describing the upbringing and town life of the parents in the story. The author takes you through their childhoods, albeit briefly, through meeting, dating, and having children...and then raising them until the daughter is 12 and is abducted. So I felt like it was more of a life story than a crime story. However, this is not a negative thing. I struggled to get through the first two and a half hours, wondering where the crime was. But if you can get through that, the writing starts to feel more relevant to the actual crime as the descriptions of family life detail the family dynamics and Brenda's (the daughters), role in the family, so you can imagine how her disappearance will affect each family member.
By the time it got to the abduction, I was hooked. I was even listening to the story during breaks at work, and feeling irritated I only had 15 minutes to devote to it.
Kevin Pierce narrates superbly and has a voice that, quite honestly, lends itself to hours of enjoyable listening.
I do recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in true crime, but again, it took patience for me to make it through the first 2.5 hours.

I received this book at no cost in exchange for a fair and honest review.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jamie
  • 20-04-17

Amazing.

One of the absolute best true crime books ever written. Kudos! A complete life story. More than just a book. Almost a journal of events.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • matthew
  • 07-04-17

Recommended!!

I could not stop listening to this book. The way it is written was phenomenal. You really get to know most of the characters on a deeper level. That doesn't happen very often. I found myself waiting in anticipation for the verdict. Crying with family and screaming with joy over victories. By far one of the greatest books written!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Reg
  • 05-04-17

Easy to Listen

This book read like a novel. Jack Olsen does such an excellent job of researching, interviewing, and recording the events of this time that you feel as if you are reading a story. Sadly, this is true crime and the terrible things detailed in this book did happen.

When Brenda Gere disappears from her home after school one sunny September day, suspicion immediately falls on Michael Green, the hulking ex-Husky football player turned wannabe competition muscle man. Elaine and Joe Gere embark on a crusade to find their daughter that is as frustrating as it is inspiring. Everybody knows the troubled, steroid using Michael Green took Brenda. The fact that the police could not arrest him was exasperating to read about as was the almost unlimited support his abused wife and father in law gave him. His own family and mother in law appear to be the only people who saw him for the monster he is.

This book really chronicles Elaine Gere's life from birth to after the trial for murder of Michael Kay Green. She is a strong, resilient woman who survived the severe alcoholism of her husband and raised two sons herself after her husband died. She was a remarkable woman able to do anything from raising and slaughtering animals to remodeling homes and seating toilets. She called every week and spoke to the detectives looking for her daughter for 6 long years until she knew what happened. And then Elaine let the lawyers do the work to convict the killer of his crimes. I will never forget what she said to Michael Kay Green at his sentencing.

Jack Olsen says at the beginning of the book that it will change you. It has changed me. I am not one to leave my boys alone in the house but now I don't know if I ever will. The brazenness of Michael Kay Green is astounding to me. It has made me think twice about leaving windows open, doors unlocked, and answering knocks at any time of the day.

Kevin Pierce narrated this book in his usual excellent style. He read Jack Olsen's excellent writing of this history in the perfect way and really brought the Gere family's story to light.

I received this audiobook for free through Audiobook Boom! in exchange for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful