Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

Lost Girls

By Robert Kolker

  • Release Date: 2013-07-09
  • Genre: True Crime
Score: 4
From 147 Ratings
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Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a haunting and humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, in a compelling tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution.

One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert, after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life, went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene—of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County Police, too, seemed to have paid little attention—until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap. But none of them Shannan's.

There was Maureen Brainard-Barnes, last seen at Penn Station in Manhattan three years earlier, and Melissa Barthelemy, last seen in the Bronx in 2009. There was Megan Waterman, last seen leaving a hotel in Hauppage, Long Island, just a month after Shannan's disappearance in 2010, and Amber Lynn Costello, last seen leaving a house in West Babylon a few months later that same year. Like Shannan, all four women were petite and in their twenties, they all came from out of town to work as escorts, and they all advertised on Craigslist and its competitor, Backpage.

In a triumph of reporting—and in a riveting narrative—Robert Kolker presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of escorts in the Internet age, where making a living is easier than ever and the dangers remain all too real. He has talked exhaustively with the friends and family of each woman to reveal the three-dimensional truths about their lives, the struggling towns they came from, and the dreams they chased. And he has gained unique access to the Oak Beach neighborhood that has found itself the focus of national media scrutiny—where the police have flailed, the body count has risen, and the neighbors have begun pointing fingers at one another. There, in a remote community, out of sight of the beaches and marinas scattered along the South Shore barrier islands, the women's stories come together in death and dark mystery. Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.


  • Excellent

    By Big Daddy Mas
    Well written and constructed from beginning to end. I finished it in one week. You know a crime story is good when it has you researching and looking up the case, this will do that...very good read.
  • great book

    By ReleaseNYC
    I just couldn't put this down. It is a dark and heavy story but a very interesting read.
  • Review and response to post by "you idiots!"

    By mellyunplugged
    First of all, the post by reviewer "you idiots" is ridiculous. You realize this is a TRUE STORY, and that there is no conclusion on who has done it because they don't yet know who that is. That's kind of the point, genius. Secondly, this book was well written and took a confusing and sad story and broke it down to decipher all the facts and interpret what you will without making any assumptions. It was respectful of those who had been killed as well as their families while still remaining true at the root of it all.
  • Compelling and Eye Opening

    By heatherridesbikes
    While this book is sometimes hard to follow (so many characters), it is a look into a world we often hide from. Bringing humanity to these girls and their families, this is a great story of them. I would definitely recommend reading this book.
  • Horrible

    By You Idiots!
    Ridiculously long with no closure on whodunnit.
  • Made me question myself...

    By YOLO724
    Very well written book. I am very apprehensive of true crime books because I figure the author has an agenda. With this book- I found myself blurring all the stories of the murdered girls. Their names blended together to me and I had to continually refer back to remember who was who. I got frustrated about this, but then I put it all together. I am just as guilty as everyone else who ignored the victims and their families. I considered all the girls "lost". Very eye opening
  • Good read.

    By DSN22
    Wish they found the killer.
  • Good read

    By AvalonB3C
    Very interesting, well written and researched book. It is a good tribute to those involved in a different lifestyle and method of earning a living. It's unfortunate the lifestyle is so dangerous and it is sad and so very unfair some members of our society are not given the same value as most others. Hopefully the sick coward who committed these crimes against these young women will make a serious mistake and be caught. They really are not as smart as they really think they are. He'll slip one day, hopefully soon.
  • Really engrossing read

    By Martha312
    Hard to put down! I hope that these women and their families get justice.