“Riveting... a personal and highly original work of true-crime storytelling.” — John Douglas, former FBI criminal profiling pioneer and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Mindhunter
A chilling investigation into the unsolved “boy in the woods” murder; journalist Jim Cosgrove chronicles his decades-long struggle to uncover the truth of a family friend’s disappearance and death — perfect for fans of I'll be Gone in the Dark and Memorial Drive.
For nine years, South Carolina officials struggled to identify “the boy in the woods,” a young man whose body had been discovered just south of Myrtle Beach in a fishing village called Murrells Inlet.
Meanwhile, 1,200 miles away in Kansas City, Missouri, Frank McGonigle's family searched for him at Grateful Dead concerts and in the face of every long-haired hitchhiker they passed. Consumed by guilt for how they'd treated him, Frank's eight siblings slowly came to understand that — like Jerry Garcia sang — he's gone and nothin's gonna bring him back.
Frank McGonigle was finally found — and identified as “the boy in the woods.”
Four years later, the case still unsolved, Jim Cosgrove, a McGonigle family friend and investigative journalist, picked up the trail of Frank’s cold case and began uncovering connections to a ruthless local crime boss and blunders by the threadbare sheriff’s department.
When his research began to stall, a chance meeting with the soft-hearted, straight-talking “energy reader” Carol Williams provided a metaphysical spark that reignited Jim's resolve. Although his work as a journalist trained him to be skeptical, Cosgrove found himself starting to become a believer when Carol provided details about Frank’s murder that turned out to be freakishly accurate.
In 2019, Cosgrove returned to Murrells Inlet with one of Frank’s brothers to dredge up some old leads and settle Frank’s case once and for all…
Strange is an apt description of Cosgrove's debut, a puzzling and disappointing account of an unsolved murder case. Cosgrove, a former Albuquerque Journal feature writer, tosses in unidentified speculative scenes, assistance from a psychic, and his own supernatural encounter in this mishmash that fails to find the truth about the 1982 killing of Kansan Frank McGonigle. Following a family spat, McGonigle took off in his car without a word to anyone. A week later, a man's body, with bullet wounds in the back of its head, was found in South Carolina, but it wasn't identified as McGonigle's until 1991. Cosgrove, whose parents were friends with McGonigle's parents, decided to use the homicide as the topic for his master's thesis and as part of his oral storytelling repertoire. He spoke with McGonigle family members, law enforcement, and even someone he suspected of being involved, but gives the most weight to psychic Carol Williams. Her paranormal "evidence" fell on receptive ears, as Cosgrove describes a conversation he had with the dead McGonigle. At one point, Cosgrove throws out the possibility that McGonigle was the victim of an accidental misfire, without reconciling that theory with the location of the two bullet wounds. This is an unsatisfying look at a crime that warrants serious reexamination.