Lost Girls: Book summary and reviews of Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

Lost Girls

An Unsolved American Mystery

by Robert Kolker

Lost Girls by Robert Kolker X
Lost Girls by Robert Kolker
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2013
    416 pages
    Genre: True Crime

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Book Summary

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a haunting and humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, in a compelling tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution.

One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert, after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life, went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene - of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County Police, too, seemed to have paid little attention - until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap. But none of them Shannan's.

There was Maureen Brainard-Barnes, last seen at Penn Station in Manhattan three years earlier, and Melissa Barthelemy, last seen in the Bronx in 2009. There was Megan Waterman, last seen leaving a hotel in Hauppage, Long Island, just a month after Shannan's disappearance in 2010, and Amber Lynn Costello, last seen leaving a house in West Babylon a few months later that same year. Like Shannan, all four women were petite and in their twenties, they all came from out of town to work as escorts, and they all advertised on Craigslist and its competitor, Backpage.

In a triumph of reporting - and in a riveting narrative - Robert Kolker presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of escorts in the Internet age, where making a living is easier than ever and the dangers remain all too real. He has talked exhaustively with the friends and family of each woman to reveal the three-dimensional truths about their lives, the struggling towns they came from, and the dreams they chased. And he has gained unique access to the Oak Beach neighborhood that has found itself the focus of national media scrutiny - where the police have flailed, the body count has risen, and the neighbors have begun pointing fingers at one another. There, in a remote community, out of sight of the beaches and marinas scattered along the South Shore barrier islands, the women's stories come together in death and dark mystery. Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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

"Starred Review. Beautifully and provocatively written...a baffling whodunit that remains, as the subtitle indicates, unsolved...a captivating true crime narrative that's sure to win new converts and please longtime fans of the genre." - Publishers Weekly

"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

This information about Lost Girls shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Robert Kolker Author Biography

Photo: Jeff Zorabedian

Robert Kolker is the New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls, named one of the New York Times' 100 Notable Books and one of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books of 2013. As a journalist, his work has appeared in New York magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Times magazine, Wired, GQ, O magazine, and Men's Journal. He is a National Magazine Award finalist and a recipient of the 2011 Harry Frank Guggenheim Award for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Link to Robert Kolker's Website

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