Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

by Robert Kolker


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062183637
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/09/2013
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 846,994
Product dimensions: 6.44(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

Robert Kolker is a New York magazine contributing editor and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. He writes about issues surrounding criminal justice and the unforeseen impact of extraordinary events on everyday people. He lives with his family in Brooklyn. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Book 1


Maureen 5

Melissa 17

Shannan 29

Megan 39

Amber 59


Marie 75

Chloe 93

Angelina 111

Lexi 135

Carolina 149

Interlude: Oak Beach, 2010 169

Book 2


Bodies 199

Families 237

Conspiracies 255

Alliances 281


The Doctor 311

The Marsh 319

The John 349

The Remains 357

Maps 386

Chronology 391

List of Character 395

Acknowledgments 397

Customer Reviews

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Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unable to sleep early this morning, I sleepily browsed new releases and ordered the electronic copy of Robert Kolker’s Lost Girls.  I read the prologue, and felt my eyes drowsy eyes widen.  After twenty pages, it was clear that I wasn’t going back to bed.  Twenty pages after that, it was clear I wasn’t going to work.  I emailed my boss and finished Lost Girls late in the afternoon.  I regret none of it. Lost Girls hooks you with an unsolved mystery.  It leads you gently to unsolved social issues, too.  The book never preaches, though I suddenly can’t stop thinking about criminal and economic justice.  As broad as the societal implications may be, the five women of the title, and their families, are treated with unmistakable individuality.  Kolker skillfully humanizes each of them. If you know Robert Kolker’s magazine pieces, you know they usually involve getting a broad circle of people with complex connections to each other to tell their own, often opposing, sides of a story.  To write Lost Girls, somehow, he earned rare candor and trust from families, friends, accusers, and suspects.  None of them wants to stop thinking of this story.  I faked a sick day because I couldn’t, either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow really interesting take on several murders that seem to be related on Lomg Island. Not so much the murders really but the lives of the women involved makes fascinating reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting take on this very controversial murder mystery. If you know about the case, give this a try.
nausetsunriseKR More than 1 year ago
This book does not "solve" anything and it doesn't conjecture, either. It presents information from a specific viewpoint. The author does a great job of leaving you in suspense, yet in a good way, while avoiding sensationalized writing. At the end, we may have more questions than answers, yet we are also satisfied at having learned more about the situations that face women daily who find themselves with few alternatives after tough family situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was well researched and that Robert Kolker did an excellent job of presenting an unbiased account of the murders of these young women. The authors coverage of the lifestyle of these women was very interesting and shows just how the internet can make an another anonymous threat to someones life in the guise of efficient helpfullness, all the while making them alone and vulnable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though the book was very informative, I felt it lacked the excitement element that should draw you into a book and captivate you. I didn't really learn anything from this that i didn't already learn from newspapers and blogs.Though not totally based on the beach murders, I felt Confessions of the oak beach drifter was a far more entertaining book. In my opinion, I feel this "drifter" who is also mentioned in Lost Girls, is holding something back pertaining to this very mysterious case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Kolker has written an excellent true crime book here. I love that he made the victims come alive and made the reader see them as people. He shows great deference to these women whom many would and do see as disposable entities and "just" prostitutes. These women were someone's daughter, sister, mother, friend, and people need to remember that. I came away from this book extremely frustrated that the police seem to have done such a poor job in investigating these murders, particularly Shannan Gilbert's, the one victim in whose case there were all the pieces available needed to find the perpetrator, but were not used to put the puzzle together. Why was the security tape not seized immediately? Why were her clothes and possessions not tested for DNA? Why was her bone marrow not tested for all drugs, not just cocaine? I think it's painfully obvious that the reason is because she was viewed as a disposable victim because she was a prostitute. The police didn't want to "waste" resources on her. If she was an upstanding, middle- or upper-class woman, I think someone would be in prison right now. I pray that Shannan, Maureen, Melissa, Megan, and Amber may rest in peace and that their family and friends are at peace as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating. Terrifying. Unbeliably true. This book has received some phenomenal reviews and it is easy to see why. The author is obviously a journalist and he knows his stuff. He sticks to the 5 W's of Journalism: who, what, when, where and why. I knew nothing of this case and I live in New Jersey not far from where it happened! I am not one to follow local news which is undoubtly why. Now I am in the author's debt for educating. Well written and easy to read, this books goes down smooth like an extended newspaper article. I could not stop reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very well researched but suffers from too much information and poor presentation. I didn't think a book about a serial killer could be dull, but this one is boring in spades. You will be introduced to literally everyone the victims ever knew and will have dozens of unconnected stories to keep straight. Do not expect suspense or even diversion. This book is only for people who have a STRONG interest in details and NO interest in plot development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read that turns a spotlight on a part of our society that we'd grown used to ignoring. So well researched and well written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love true crime but felt like thus book dragged on and on. The different characters were hard to follow and remember throughout the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this book can be a bit verbose in some passages, I truly enjoyed how the author told the stories of the victims and their families and didn't focus solely on the unsub as most true crime stories do.
WorldReader1111 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed 'Lost Girls,' for multiple reasons. It is, first, well-written and easy to read, with a good, engaging format and a similarly effective narrative. Furthermore, the text provides a sound overview of the case in question, with the available facts complimented by comprehensive background information; upon finishing the book, I felt to have a basic knowledge of the events and their circumstances (insofar as one can gain from a book, at least). Additionally, the author presents these facts with an admirable neutrality, avoiding bias for any of the multiple camps and interests involved; also evident are uncommon amounts of compassion and wisdom, both of which go far when discussing such a delicate and emotionally-charged affair. Equally impressive is the research that serves as the book's primary source material, being mostly firsthand, original interviews and other fieldwork on the author's part, rather than a simple recounting of police reports and court transcripts. For these reasons alone, 'Lost Girls' is, in my opinion, a literary success. Content-wise, the book is as rich and substantial, as well as multidimensional in nature. Yes, 'Lost Girls' constitutes a meaningful document of multiple, unsolved murders. Though, however validating the overt subject matter, the book's true value lies in the details, in which are explored a wide range of human issues: the life stories of the victims, and the many ethical and philosophical questions they raise; the storm of drama, accusation, and questionable sentimentality that occurred after the fact; the portrayal of the subtle, peculiar island culture of the crime scene's surrounding area, and its potential bearing on the pursuit of justice; the sheer amount of pain and upset that arises from a handful of selfish acts, and the longevity of this suffering. What's more, 'Lost Girls' also presents a good old-fashioned mystery, in which reader and author alike must separate fact from speculation in an effort to determine the ultimate, actual reality of a complex situation riddled with unknowns; this proves to be beneficial in itself, simply as an exercise in logic and discernment, and in refraining from jumping to conclusions when no conclusion is factually established. In any one of these subtexts can be found many lessons and worldly knowledge, but, when collected together in the nucleus of a single book, they become something greater than the sum of their parts, as to offer a powerful sort of meta-study that is unique to such exhaustive nonfiction. In the end, 'Lost Girls' is, in effect, an all-inclusive human study, touching on almost all aspects of the human experience to some degree; everyone can learn something from this one, I think. If I had to list a complaint, it would be that I had a hard time keeping track of the many relatives among the survivors; it would have helped if they were more often referred to by their full names. Though, it bears mentioning that my copy of the book is a pre-sale galley, so this issue might well have been rectified in the final text, for all I know. Regardless, it was entirely minor. My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service. * * * A notable quote from this book: "The issue of blame itself, in the end, may be a trap. They weren't angels. They weren't devils." -- p.382, in reference to the murder victims and their being sexual escorts
HHMarie2015 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book -- I thought that giving the background information on the girls made it especially hard-hitting. They become more than just victims of a senseless (and unsolved...) crime -- they evolve into people you have known throughout your life. It was a very respectful representation of the victims as well, not letting their involvement with sex work interfere with their innocence and validity as human beings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected.... a bit confusing with all of the different families and similar names.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A first-rate, moving rendering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Detailed account of the unsolved murders in the Long Island area. Great read but tragic story. Truly puts a human face on an issue we'd all like to disregard and assume it only happens to "other" people. These woman were loved, they were mothers, daughters, friends, etc and I hope justice is served. 298 pgs.
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I really enjoyed this book, but I do wish the author had spent a little more time with his findings to present some sort of theory or sense of closure of his own. Definitely worth reading, and maybe even re-reading for the amature detective who might want to do some digging of their own.
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