Must Read: Robert Kolker’s “Lost Girls”

lost girls

Yesterday I started reading Robert Kolker’s new book, Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. It’s a meticulously researched and truly engrossing look at the lives of four women who ended up murdered as a result of their work as Craigslist prostitutes. But more than that, it’s an account of their lives and what might have led them to such dangerous and ultimately fatal circumstances.

This is from Nina Burleigh’s review of the book for the New York Observer:

Theirs were the brutish lives of Americans born into the misery of economically and spiritually gutted small-town mid-Atlantic America. Their own mothers scraped and struggled to get by, working at Sears, casinos, Dunkin’ Donuts, motels. Fathers were absent. Grandparents, neighbors, foster parents stepped in to fill the care gap.

They suffered from domestic chaos, emotional problems, childhood abuse, unplanned pregnancies, bad boyfriends. The hallmark of their brief adult lives was the relentless pressure to bring in money to keep a roof over their own heads and the tiny heads of the babies they produced long before they were ready.

Each of them found a way to a modicum of financial stability through Craigslist, becoming “providers,” in john-speak—selling sex to make ends meet.

This is a car-crash of a story, but the most disturbing aspect is the way authorities couldn’t have cared less about these women. The inescapable impression one takes away from Lost Girls is that police rank Craigslist prostitutes somewhere below lost dogs.

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