Book of the Week: Lost Girls, An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

Investigative journalist Robert Kolker’s story of five prostitutes murdered in Long Island is a haunting account of the victim’s lives and an exploration of the inherent risks of buying and selling sex online.

The book begins in 20 with Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year old escort hired through Craigslist, frantically running through Oak Beach (a gated community on one of the barrier islands off Long Island) pounding on doors and  screaming for help. Then she disappears.

It’s almost two years before her body is found in the Oak Beach marshes —a year after the  gruesome discovery of four burlap-wrapped bodies on a nearby beach. All young women, who were also Craigslist escorts.

The murders have not been solved. In place of a resolved true-crime account, Kolker delivers a chilling narrative that delves into the bizarre crime scene, the eccentric neighborhood of Oak Beach, and the complicated lives of the victims.