Thursday, February 20, 2014

Recommended Read: Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

When multiple sets of skeletal remains were found in December 2010, it made national news because of the likelihood of a serial killer being responsible. This has become known as the Gilgo Beach Murders (also the unidentified Long Island Serial Killer). The remains were of missing prostitutes which, alone, aren't really a priority among the media and law enforcement. It is understandable that people who put themselves at high risk aren't taken seriously, but it also makes these women perfect targets.

Lost Girls, by Robert Kolker, had to focus on the victims because these cases are yet to be solved. Kolker delves into the lives of the five women: Maureen, Melissa, Megan, Amber, and Shannan. The first five chapters are devoted to the youth and background of each woman. The next five chapters are then devoted to each woman, as her working alias, up until her disappearance. Tragically, Shannan's disappearance triggered the discovery of the other four, yet her remains were not located for another year (and it is theorized by police that her murder is not even connected to the others, or even a murder at all; additionally, remains of others have been found in this same vicinity pointing to a prolific serial killer or multiple ones ). Further chapters discuss the search for Shannan and the implications on the families, friends, townsfolk, and police.

Kolker does not examine in depth the potential suspects or theories of the case, which may turn off some readers. However, what he does do is humanize these victims and their loved ones. This tale is so much broader than the "true crime" label. And, importantly, this case highlights so many other issues: technology (easier access to escorts and john anonymity since the rise of Craigslist, etc.), feminism (prostitutes are inherently less worthy, violence against women), family (turbulent childhoods, disconnected families) and issues that affect society as a whole (money, opportunity, drugs, sex ...).

On a less serious note, my only complaint is that there are no photos of the victims and their families. I don't mean this in a voyeuristic way, but because of the many people discussed and the structure of the book, it can be difficult remembering who is who. I had to look up photos online, which helped me solidify the cast. You can view photos as part of the New York magazine article that Kolker wrote in 2011 and expanded into this book.

Find it in the catalog!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some New (and Cool) Non-Fiction Additions To the Collection

American Fun by John Beckman - The first line in the book jacket: "From the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Americans have defied their stodgy rules and hierarchies with pranks, dances, stunts, and wild parties, shaping the national character in profound and lasting ways." A history of our wily ways. Find it in the catalog!

The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma by Barry Werth - Werth follows the business story of  the pharmaceutical company Vertex, part of one of America's most profitable industries. Find it in the catalog!

Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half  by Beth Moncel - Begins with some kitchen basics (like stocking a pantry and becoming friends with your freezer). Includes sample menus and many vegetarian and vegan recipes. Find it in the catalog!

A Curious Madness: An American Combat Psychiatrist, A Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery From World War II by Eric Jaffe - The author's grandfather, Major Daniel Jaffe, was tasked with determining the sanity, and ability to stand trial for war crimes, of a Japanese man. Includes a section of photos. Find it in the catalog!

Doctor Who: The Vault by Marcus Hearn - Attractive book of the history, including behind the scenes info and a plethora of photos. A must for Doctor Who fanatics. Find it in the catalog!

The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life by Kimberly Palmer - Thinking of starting your own side business? Check out this book. Find it in the catalog!

I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia by Su Meck - Chronicles a wife and mother's struggle to re-enter the life she doesn't remember after a traumatic brain injury. Find it in the catalog!

Seaside Quilts: Quilting & Sewing Projects for Beach-Inspired Decor by Carol C. Porter & Rebecca J. Hansen - Ah, the beach ... Anyway, I think the title explains is all really. Find it in the catalog!

Where the Locals Go: More Than 300 Places Around the World to Eat, Play, Shop, Celebrate, and Relax compiled by National Geographic - Just as the title suggests, a guide to all the happening places and things to do around the world. Includes lots of photos to entice you. Find it in the catalog!