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Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery Hardcover – July 9, 2013
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“Through extensive interviews with the victims’ families and friends, Kolker creates compassionate portraits of the murdered young women, and uncovers the forces that drove them from their respective home towns into risky, but lucrative, careers as prostitutes in a digital age.” ( New Yorker )
“Captivating.” (Boston Globe)
“Robert Kolker unflinchingly probes the 21st-century innovations that facilitated these crimes… ...An important examination of the socioeconomic and cultural forces that can shape a woman’s entry into prostitution.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Beautifully and provocatively written.... [Lost Girls] will make all but the hardest-hearted empathetic. Add a baffling whodunit that remains, as the subtitle indicates, unsolved, and you have a captivating true crime narrative that’s sure to win new converts and please longtime fans of the genre.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Robert Kolker’s LOST GIRLS is reportage at the highest level; it’s miss-your-bedtime storytelling… It’s a wonder.” (Darin Strauss, author of Half A Life)
“Lost Girls is a marvelous book, taking a complicated, trying story and making it compulsively readable. Kolker is an outstanding reporter and a sensitive narrator who does justice to a horrible tragedy by paying exactly the kind of attention that no one else did, or would.” (Nick Reding, author of Methland)
“The absence of the killer is the making of this book, a constraint that allows it to become extraordinary…humane and imaginative…[Kolker] shows the dented magnificence and universal sorrow within ordinary lives, and makes you realize how much more they are worth.” ( Laura Miller, Salon )
“Kolker indulges in zero preaching and very little sociology; his is the lens of a classic police reporter. And often in Lost Girls, the facts are eloquent in themselves.” (Newsday)
“Some true crime books are exploitative…others grasp at serious literature. Robert Kolker’s new book falls into the latter category.” (New York Observer)
“Readers expecting an SVU-style true-crime story will be disappointed. But through detailed profiles of the victims themselves, Kolker has written a more provocative book—a book that is as much about class and economic pressures as it is about sex work and murder.” ( The Daily Beast )
“Meticulously reported and beautifully written, Robert Kolker’s Lost Girls is a haunting and powerful crime story that gives voice to those who can no longer be heard. It is a story that you will not be able to forget.” (David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z)
“A gothic whodunit for the Internet age…nearly unputdownable…[LOST GIRLS is] a horrific, cautionary tale that makes for a very different kind of beach read…Kolker expertly chronicles the sad cycle of poor, uneducated white women faced with lots of kids and few resources.” (Mimi Swartz, New York Times Book Review)
“Rich, tragic...monumental...true-crime reporting at its best.” (Washington Post)
“Engrossing...a car-crash of a book...By humanizing the women, Mr. Kolker has produced a subtle indictment of the sex trade.” ( Nina Burleigh, New York Observer )
“A heart-chilling non-fiction tour-de-force...terrifying and intensely reported.” ( Complex Magazine )
“A rare gem of a book that not only tells a riveting story but illuminates something about a slice of America and gets into a lot of very deep issues. Its really great on every front.” ( Slate, DoubleX )
“Riveting and often heartbreaking...a lashing critique of how society, and the police, let these young women down.” ( Dwight Garner, New York Times )
“Immensely evocative...we are left with is a visceral understanding of the lives of the victims and why they should have mattered more.” ( New York Daily News )
“Terrific...vivid and moving...Grade: A-” ( Entertainment Weekly )
“So masterful.” ( Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me , via Twitter )
“By learning the intimate details of the women’s lives, seeing them as humans rather than victims, we see our similarities…Lost Girls is possibly the realest, fullest picture of what is happening with sex work in the US right now.” (The Guardian (UK))
“Kolker does not hold back in addressing the fact that there was dysfunction in these women’s lives. They were drug addicts and teenage mothers and petty criminals. They suffered. But he can also see that within those circumstances they had moments of strength and self-assurance. ” (Barnes & Noble Review )
“Lost Girls is partly unsolved mystery...[partly]the intimate story of the five women… [and] a case study in the profound impact of the Internet, and particularly Craigslist, on the business of buying and selling sex.” (National Post (Canada))
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Top Customer Reviews
A pregnant high school dropout at sixteen, Maureen went through a series of dead-end jobs and failed relationships. A hair stylist in training who did well in high school, Melissa saw a path out of Buffalo when a man (who turned out to be a pimp) offered her a job cutting hair in a New York barbershop. Rebellious, impossible to control, and marked as white trash, Megan was impregnated by a thirty-two year old when she was seventeen. Sexually abused as a child, Amber eventually joined her sister at an escort service because the workers provided her with a sense of family. All of the women advertised on Craigslist and disappeared after making appointments with unidentified clients.
Raised in a series of foster homes, Shannon worked for an escort agency that catered to high-end clients before the police put it out of business. She also turned to Craigslist. Her last appointment was in Oak Beach. Unlike the other lost girls, Shannon made quite a scene before she disappeared, running around Oak Beach screaming and banging on doors, perhaps frightened by something, perhaps suffering from cocaine psychosis. She called 911 but got no help from the police. Her client that night was Joe Brewer.Read more ›
- Maureen/Marie: A telemarketer who wishes to be a poet, or a song composer for rap artists. Unable to launch her career, she is astonished by the amount of money that escorts (working for certain agencies) can actually make. Maureen sees Craigslist as an opportunity to make money without having to pay escort services.
- Melissa/Chloe: A girl whose dream is to open a hair-salon, she grows up in Buffalo, NY, in a neighborhood where hers is one of the only white families. "The race thing was a peculiar subject for all of them." Melissa feels like she was born on the wrong body since she wants to be black. That is why she finds herself a black boyfriend, a boy involved in drug dealing, and moves to NYC.
- Shannan/Angelina: Diagnosed as bipolar, and described by her mother as "independent-minded," Shannan decides to grow up in a series of foster homes rather than with her mother. Seeking to have "the best of everything," Shannan wants to pursue a singing career and also moves to NYC.
- Megan/Lexi: As a child, growing up in Portland, ME, Megan becomes the perfect example of misbehavior.Read more ›
These girls were murdered, however, and the murderer was never caught (this is all written on the back jacket) I liked how the author weaved each individual story and then their "chosen" name and ultimately what happened to them and the ensuing investigation. The author is no slouch. He's right up on the language it doesn't come off as condescending or snobby, to these girls - as it shouldn't and I just think this is a remarkable job. I really hope this is the beginning of Mr. Kolker's career in true crime - some have a stilted "dry" way of telling a true crime story that drives me crazy this is told in a way that pulls one in and I found myself wanting to read this when I had other things to do. I really enjoyed it though not what happened to the girl. That is a shame.
But if you're looking for a great true crime or just an interesting true story - this is it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If a possibly unhealthy interest in true crime has taught me anything, it's that the law does not function equally for all members of society. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Rachel Hillen
Good writing in the 1st half, sensitive and insightful into the lives of the girls. The 2nd half that revolves around the investigation started becoming very repetitive though.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
The book was very informative about all the missing girls being found in remote area of Long Island and the lack of luck with the police solving the case!Published 5 days ago by donald j molnar
I'm still reading it I like it knowing about the backgrounds of these young women although there choice of work surely added to there demisePublished 5 days ago by Patricia A Cusumano
The author, R. Kolker, did an okay job describing the girls who represent the title of this book. The ending makes you realize these girls are still, to this day, literally... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Kristin Falgren
Very gripping. A real perspective on the life of being a call girl and how they got into it. Drugs and other addictions of this lifestyle. Sad life.Published 15 days ago by janice
This story is just that...sad. I gave it 4 stars because it took me quite a while to keep the people and their families and friends straight. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Mav
Good read. Interesting to get information on the people involved. Very compellingPublished 17 days ago by Kathleen Osmond
Very well written account of the 11 young girls who went missing on Long Island NY. It focuses on their lives, and what brought them to all wind up out there. Read morePublished 23 days ago by d517