Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lost Girls

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Today’s Non-fiction post is on “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker. It is his first book. It is 399 pages long, including notes and a timeline, and is published by HarperCollins. The cover is a picture of the stretch of beach where the bodies were found. The intended reader is someone who likes unsolved mysteries and investigative journalism. There is strong language, talk of drug use and sex; so over 16+ just to be safe. It is told from interviews with Kolker’s thoughts sometimes spread into the text. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Shannan wanted acceptance. Maureen wanted a solution. Megan wanted love. Melissa wanted adventure. Amber wanted to be saved.
Over the course of three years, each of these young women vanished without a trace: Maureen in 2007, Melissa and Megan in 2009, and Amber and Shannan in 2010. All but one of their bodies were discovered on Gilgo Beach, Long Island, an unsettled, overgrown seven-mile stretch of shoreline on the string of barrier islands along South Oyster Bay.
Sharing the same profile- all were in their twenties, all but one were under five feet tall, all were prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist- the women were thought by the police to be victims of one murderer, the Long Beach serial killer, the most skillful and accomplished psychopath in New York since the “Son of Sam”. But as the writer Robert Kolker discovered, the truth about these women goes far deeper than common assumptions. The victims weren’t outcasts; they weren’t kidnapped or enslaved. All entered prostitution willingly. And all came from a slice of America ignored by politicians and the media: parts of the country hit hard by a poor economy, where limited opportunities force people to make hard choices- choices that lead them to places like Gilgo Beach.
Working closely with the victim’s families, Lost Girls beings into focus the stories of these young women, their deaths, and their lives, offering a searing portrait of crime and circumstance that goes to the heart of modern America itself.

Review- This is a moving narrative about how five women were pulled into the world of prostitution and how their lives ended. Kolker is not really interested in who killed them. He wants to understand why they died. The killer is still unknown and may never be caught but whoever they are, they are not important to this book. Kolker gives these women a face, a story, and compassion. I believe that he really cares about why they were in the sex trade and how their deaths have affected their families. I was moved both the women’s lives and the way that Kolker tells the reader about them. This book is well written and engaging. I cannot think of anything that I did not like about this book. If you like true crime then read this book. There is only one slow part of the story and that is when Kolker is describing Gilgo Beach and the town that is near it. But it is important to the second half of the book after the bodies are found.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given an ARC of this book from HarperCollins for an honest review.