Soon to be a Netflix film
One of Slate’s Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years
A literary account of the lives and presumed serial killings of five “Craigslist” prostitutes, whose bodies were found on the same Long Island beach in 2010. Based on the New York Magazine cover story.
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 was 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 was under five feet tall, and all were prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist—the police concluded they were all the victims of one murderer, the Long Island serial killer—the most skillful and accomplished serial killer in New York since the “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz. But as intrepid young reporter Robert Kolker discovered, the truth about these women went far deeper than common assumptions. The victims weren’t outcasts; they weren’t kidnapped or enslaved. All came from a slice of America ignored by politicians and the media: the poor, often rural and white parts of the country hit hard by economics, where limited opportunities force people to make hard choices—choices that lead them to places like Gilgo Beach.
Working closely with the women’s families, Lost Girls tells the stories of their deaths and their lives, offering a searing portrait of crime and circumstance that goes to the heart of modern America itself.
In stark contrast to the ugliness of the story, Kolker's sad tale of five young women linked by the tragic circumstances of their disappearances is beautifully and provocatively written. The book opens with a prologue that casts an appropriately eerie pall on the proceedings: after arriving late one spring night at Long Island's Oak Beach, Shannan Gilbert, an escort who was in the area to see a client, began banging on doors and screaming for help. Her pleas went unanswered, and then she disappeared. That was in 2010. Seven months later, the corpses of four women also escorts were found nearby. Kolker, a contributing editor at New York magazine, outlines each woman's descent into a world "that many of their loved ones could not imagine," and in doing so renders each as fully fleshed out individuals forced to make tough decisions to navigate a tough world. Just the right amount of detail 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. 10 maps & timeline.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Made me question myself...
Very well written book. I am very apprehensive of true crime books because I figure the author has an agenda. With this book- I found myself blurring all the stories of the murdered girls. Their names blended together to me and I had to continually refer back to remember who was who. I got frustrated about this, but then I put it all together. I am just as guilty as everyone else who ignored the victims and their families. I considered all the girls "lost". Very eye opening
Wish they found the killer.
Well written and constructed from beginning to end. I finished it in one week. You know a crime story is good when it has you researching and looking up the case, this will do that...very good read.