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Book Review – Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

In Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, investigative reporter Robert Kolker details the still-unsolved case of the Long Island Serial Killer (also known as the Gilgo Killer).

Shannan Gilbert is an escort that goes on a call to Oak Beach. Her driver sat outside while she went in. While inside, something seemingly goes wrong and Shannah is last seen running hysterically down the street in the dead of the night. The search for her eventually leads to the discovery of several bodies along Gilgo Beach.

Lost Girls stands apart from many other true crime books because it gives us an insight into the characteristics and the lives of the women who became victims to the Long Island Serial Killer. Many books focus just on the killer or the investigation without providing much information about those that truly matter – the victims. Kolker truly brings the victims back to life with this book and takes us through every aspect of their life – from the moment they are born to the moment they are killed. We see their hopes and their dreams as well as their struggles. We are taken down the dark path that led them to the sex industry.

Their lives should have mattered more than they did yet society and police failed them due to the stigma attached to sex workers. This book is a real haunting and humanising look into how sex workers can often be treated as second class citizens in America. By going into the deeper details of the lives of these women, the reader can see similarities and the “us” and “them” stigmatisation begins to deteriorate. There is something extremely unfathomable and unnerving about a society that allows human beings to disappear only to be found years later, as skeletonised remains.

Even more unfathomable and unnerving is that the connection between those remains and sex work is used to justify their fates.

Lost Girls: US Amazon / UK Amazon

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