Joe Gere said he died on the afternoon his twelve-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.
With a new introduction by bestselling true crime author M. William Phelps.
Tips and sightings poured in as lawmen and volunteers combed the Cascades forest in the biggest search on 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 twentieth-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.
Gilbert Taylor: In the annals of humanity, the Gere family is unexceptional and ordinary--unless one looks as closely at their lives as Olsen does. A boomer-age couple, Joe and Elaine Gere move between California and Idaho a dozen times on their roller coaster ride of solvency and bankruptcy and have three children. Much the steadier spouse, energetic Elaine always manages to land a clerical federal job wherever Joe moves the family. The wanderlust ensues from Joe's first career misfortune, as a cop disabled during a melee with a mob. His relatives thought that incident started his slide toward suicide, and his addictive (regrets of hitting her and promises to reform) abuse of Elaine demonstrates the complexity of Joe's insidious demons. But he holds on, Elaine remaining loyal, until another bolt from the blue--the kidnapping and murder of their 12-year-old daughter. Here Olsen is at his dispassionate, yet concerned, best, introducing the subplot of the suspect's life (a wife beater), the course of the investigation, and the ultimate denoument of the case. In this mass-media age, many women will identify with, and perhaps be inspirited by, Olsen's fine chronicle of the Gere family.
Anyone who doubts that women are the stronger sex would be well advised to read this tale of Elaine Mayzsak Gere, who not only endured but triumphed over two violent tragedies in her family. Raised in California and trained to work hard even as a child, she married Joe Gere, a local boy who served in Korea, became a police officer and was badly hurt in a confrontation with two drugged arsonists. After many moves up and down the West Coast, they settled in a town near Seattle, where in 1985 their daughter, Brenda, was abducted and murdered. Her body was found six years later. Joe came from a drinking family and turned into an alcoholic after Brenda's disappearance. In 1988, he committed suicide, shooting himself in the presence of his wife and two young sons. In 1993, the man who everyone was almost certain had abducted Brenda was finally tried, convicted and sentenced to life. Thus Elaine, who had struggled to hold the family together after the kidnapping, now had to help her sons recuperate from the twin traumas. Her firm religious faith and strong work ethic sustained her, and the story of her indomitability gives Olsen (Doc) the material for one of his most penetrating books. True Crime Club featured selection; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, Doubleday Book Club featured alternates; author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Never give up
This book could have been called “Take The High Road”. For a family that faced such difficult loss and managed to come out with a positive attitude, it amazes me. This book should be used in therapy to help people avoid wallowing in anger, depression and pity. It’s a frightening and sad story that shows the miracle of not giving up. But I still wonder—why do we preserve the life of the monster who did such harm?
Salt of the Earth
Couldn't put it down! Read it in one day. Highly recommend it!