Robert Kolker's Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery is, physically, a well-made book. Its cover image is crisp and haunting. Someone has paid close attention to this volume's many maps. They are stylish and, a rarity, actually helpful. This sense of mastery carries over into Mr. Kolker's lean but ductile prose. Reading this true-crime book, you're reminded of the observation that easy reading is hard writing.
New York Times - Dwight Garner
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.
Some true crime books are exploitative…others grasp at serious literature. Robert Kolker’s new book falls into the latter category.
New York Observer
Rich, tragic...monumental...true-crime reporting at its best.
Kolker is a careful writer and researcher...[he paints] a far more nuanced picture of each young woman than any screaming headline could.
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.
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.... 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.
Kolker's portrait of the young women and their families will draw readers in despite the frustration they will feel at the book's end. Although all five of the victims profiled were sex workers, Kolker does not condescend or dismiss the women as lost causes.... Verdict: Readers may find themselves checking in with the case in the future, hoping for some justice for the lost girls. —Kate Sheehan, Waterbury, CT
What sets his investigation apart from many true-crime tomes, however, is the attention he pays to the girls' back stories.... Kolker also does a fine job of describing the girls' lives without patronizing their decisions.... Most commendably, he points out inconsistencies and dubious motives on the part of some of his interviewees; one mother, who had little to do with her daughter while she was alive, reinvented herself as a crusader for justice.... An important examination of the socioeconomic and cultural forces that can shape a woman's entry into prostitution.
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