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In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation Hardcover – April 18, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; First Edition edition (April 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556525796
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525797
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the sensational subtitle, readers who have followed the kidnapping and eventual safe return of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart won't glean any "startling" truths from this account, coauthored by one of the drama's prime players. But most will find the detailed account of police missteps disturbing and saddening. Smart's traumatic imprisonment riveted much of the country for nine months, from her abduction from her bedroom until the discovery that she was the veiled young woman accompanying a bizarre street preacher named Brian David Mitchell. Tom Smart, an uncle who came unfairly under suspicion and who devoted countless hours to exploring every lead, and journalist Benson craft a coherent narrative interweaving the official investigation with a reconstruction of Mitchell's movements; the numerous missed opportunities to locate Elizabeth and her captors make for agonizing reading. Tom Smart settles some scores: Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Marc Klaas, the father of a murdered child, come across as journalistically unscrupulous. But Smart is also forthright about his own mistakes. While this is an interesting alternate perspective to that provided by Elizabeth's parents in 2003's Bringing Elizabeth Home, the compelling story still awaits a definitive telling. 8 pages of color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A compelling account of Elizabeth's ordeal...replete with never-before-told details that only an insider could know." -- John Hughes, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and former editor of the Christian Science Monitor

"A fascinating look at...riveting case which shows how the police, media, and society interact in a high-profile crime case." -- Dr. Henry C. Lee, author, Cracking More Cases, and leading forensic scientist in the O.J. Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, and Elizabeth Smart investigations

"An important book that does far more than just chronicle the facts of [this] electrifying, terrifying child abduction case..." -- Ernie Allen, president and CEO, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

"An insightful and harrowing memoir…This book of behind-the-scene dramas reads like a true crime novel." -- Terry Tempest Williams, author, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

"Provides the only new information about the case in months." -- The Salt Lake Tribune

"Through the eyes of Tom Smart, we are finally inside a story that none of us will ever forget. Amazing." -- Nancy Grace, anchor of Court TV

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Customer Reviews

For those of us who say it can't happen to us you will not feel the same after reading this book.
L. Rubenstein
I thought the book was very well written and truly covered a lot of the day to day details of what life is like after such a horrific event happens to a normal family.
A true story of the day to day that the Smart family endurance and how they never gave up hope that they would one day bring her back to them.
Eleni Dalis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me start off by saying that I have a 15 yr old daughter, and that this is every parent's nightmare... I picked up this book, generally aware with the fact that Elizabeth Smart was abducted and eventually found alive. Other than that, I didn't know much.

"In Plain Sight" (380 pages) is written by and from Tom Smart's perspective, the oldest brother of Ed Smart (Elizabeth's dad). It doesn't necessarily make for an easy read. Tom Smart comes across as a heavy-bearing guy with an healthy ego, even if all he has in mind is the best for everyone and wants nothing more than the safe return of Elizabeth. The first half of the book covers the first 10 days or so of Elizabeth's abduction, and is not compelling, as much as we all feel for the family. The book really takes of in the second half, when the weeks and months fly by. Even though the author makes clear he has not interviewed Elizabeth for the book, we do get a good sense of what her captors and Elizabeth were doing, drifting in Salt Lake and near San Diego.

The Salt Lake City Police Department does not come across well in this account, being referred to at one point as the "Keystone Cops", as it eventually steadfastly focuses on Richard Ricci, who is arrested and eventually dies while in prison of a ruptured aneurysm, while all along the true abductors remain shockingly "in plain sight" around SLC and later in San Diego. "America's Most Wanted" John Walsh, instead, gets very positive write-up, and for good reason.

The latter part of the book is most riveting, up to the eventual confrontation with the abductors and Elizabeth in suburban SLC.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have read all the books on the Elizabeth Smart case and this is buy far the best. Contrary to what some people have said, this book does not violate Elizabeth's privacy.There is really no new information on her in it. In fact, the book focuses on the investigations and the mistakes made by police in going after Richard Ricci long after Mary Katherine had said that it wasn't him. It gives many new details on the case that were not available in news reports or the other books. I attended a book signing given by the authors and Mr. Smart said that the LAPD had requested that he donated copies of the book so their officers could read it and benefit from the mistakes of the SLPD. If this book can help police departments in saving another missing child, it will be well worth it. Another thing that I liked about the book is that it gave a lot of background on the kidnappers and their twisted reasons for doing what they did.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Larry D. Curtis on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tom Smart writes a book that is hardly about Elizabeth Smart at all but is about her family and community. Missing Elizabeth hangs over the entire book as a specter but this is, most of all, about the efforts and love, heart ache and pain a family and community went through to find a missing girl. Some members of the press and law enforcement look pretty bad in the light the book shines on their efforts and especially their selfish motives but the author is also not above showing his own failings. I found the book capivating, informative and valuable as a learning tool in how to handle media and deal with law enforcement in the face of tragedy. Clearly there could be some bias here but there are heros and falable humans presented from the point of view of one man and the book succeeds on several levels.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reader W on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Plain Sight, by Tom Smart (Elizabeth Smart's Uncle) & Lee Benson, is a fast-paced, heart-pounding account of the search for kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. Although I, and the nation, knew how this story ended; I found myself holding my breath in anticipation as I turned the pages. This is the behind the scenes story of the search for Elizabeth. It is not yellow-journalism; it is a respectful tale written with love for Elizabeth that is as pertinent in information as it is engrossing. It should be required reading for all law-enforcement. The near-misses in finding Elizabeth sooner, false stories about the Smart family and the lack of cooperation between the police and FBI left me distraught. Tom Smart is as honest with the readers about his own foibles and anguish as one could be. I've read the other reviews that seem to say this book was a gratuitous effort. I disagree. I think that it is a thank you letter to the thousands of people who helped to find Elizabeth and to those like me who followed the story and cried at the news that this little girl was found alive. Those who let their own egos overule the fate of a little girl must look in the mirror at themselves everyday and live with that. The brave heroes in this story, like John Walsh, can feel proud and deserve to be lauded. Much can be learned from this all too real tale. It seems to me that if Tom Smart and his family had not been so persistent then Elizabeth may not have returned. I walk away from reading In Plain Sight realizing that blind-faith in the authorities will not bring a loved-one's fate to light. This book clearly promotes being proactive. Aside from that, it is an extremely good book.
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