We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery | [Robert Kolker]

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

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 24-year-old: She was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene. 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.
Regular Price:$23.61
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

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 24-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 20s, 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.

©2013 Robert Kolker (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (163 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (64)
3 star
 (41)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
3.8 (146 )
5 star
 (43)
4 star
 (52)
3 star
 (40)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (4)
Story
3.9 (146 )
5 star
 (46)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (31)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Sam CHICAGO, IL, United States 07-24-13
    Sam CHICAGO, IL, United States 07-24-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No answers"
    What made the experience of listening to Lost Girls the most enjoyable?

    it's so timely, and an interesting look at a side of the internet that I'm sure we'd all rather ignore.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost Girls?

    Seeing many perspectives of the same story was valuable, and the author tries to take away some of the sensationalism.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's definitely an upsetting book, and I personally looked in the mirror at my own classism and ability to write off certain crimes as "just the way things are."


    Any additional comments?

    There are no answers in this book. The author doesn't attempt to make any guesses as to the killer, nor does he try to reconstruct any of the homicides, so if you're looking for that kind of book, you're in the wrong place. If you're looking to learn about the victims, about the line of work they were in, and about how the internet is inextricably linked to the sex industry, this book is really well-written.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Walpole, MA, United States 01-04-14
    Kindle Customer Walpole, MA, United States 01-04-14 Member Since 2011

    I'm a bear that likes honey, climbing trees, stealing picnic baskets and listening to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sad Story, Smartly Told"
    What made the experience of listening to Lost Girls the most enjoyable?

    This was an enlightening (if somewhat depressing) look into the dangers of the modern sex trade, especially in the Craigslist era. I wouldn't call it an enjoyable listen, but informative and well-told.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost Girls?

    I think what will leave a lasting impression was the amount of time the author devoted to telling the stories of the victims. A lot of hard work and excellent reporting went into this work.


    Any additional comments?

    I think the author did a really good job of telling the complete story, from the broken homes that the victims came from, to the quirks of the private community where the bodies were found. There are no easy answers in this story, but it was a smartly written and fair minded work.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Big jim Picotto Great White North 04-21-15
    Big jim Picotto Great White North 04-21-15 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    220
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    92
    49
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    9
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Decent story, but no closure(not authors fault)"

    Well written, and researched story. primarily of the victims. But seeing as the LISK has not been apprehended, there is no closure. I didn't expect it going in, but i did expect more. Probably worth the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natasha Zar Australia 04-18-15
    Natasha Zar Australia 04-18-15 Member Since 2013

    TZar

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Heartbreaking But Honest"

    A very good read. I was very impressed by Robert's ability not to be gratuitous in the description of the girls and their lives, especially given the nature of their profession. He wrote with sensitivity and respect to the women who lost their lives and their families they left behind. Robert also did a good job at being objective and sticking to the facts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bridget M. Rowley Des Moines, Iowa 03-27-15
    Bridget M. Rowley Des Moines, Iowa 03-27-15 Member Since 2014

    Bridget

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent story that gives the victims a voice"

    Compelling narrative of horrific events. The author did a wonderful job making the victims people regardless of the profession they chose.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabrielle 02-14-15
    Gabrielle 02-14-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping..."

    I couldn't stop listening. Beautifully written. The narrator is eerily haunting, without even a hint of theatrics. If you like true crime, you will like this book. It could only be better if he could tell us definitively who committed the crimes, but alas it is an unsolved case and thus an inherently dissatisfying conclusion...that will leave you with chills.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley 01-26-15
    Ashley 01-26-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great modern true crime book!"

    The narrator was great and easy to listen to but I was left wanting to know more about the investigation and other victims besides the five that were profiled. However, the author was very thorough about the lives and paths of the girls he did discuss. It's a great read for true crime enthusiasts. I also liked that it was current. A lot of true crime takes place several decades ago so it was a nice change to hear about a case that took modern conveniences into consideration like Craigslist and cell phones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nora E. Delaney 01-16-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth the read!"

    Honestly told, representing the truth of the life of prostitution but, while maintaining the dignity that all lost girls deserve. A remarkable book, worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ricketsj St. Paul, MN United States 05-27-14
    ricketsj St. Paul, MN United States 05-27-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    92
    36
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detailed and engaging."

    I knew a little about this case from television, and was very interested to hear more about both the progress of the case and the lives of the victims. It was fairly depressing, but quite interesting, to hear the sad backgrounds of the women and how that played out in the aftermath of the discovery of their remains. The work Kolker did in investigating the residents of the Oak Beach area was quite informative and I was very glad it was included. Nothing like that was included in any television reports I saw of the case. My only real criticism of the book was that it focused very little on the unidentified remains. Whether or not the murders were all related, there must have been more information available (even if just the forensic reports) about these unidentified victims. I realize there could not have been much background information to find without knowing who the bodies belonged to, but it did feel that they were simply not a focus of the book. Yet it seems odd not to have put a little more into that aspect of the story. Still, it was detailed and well-researched. Well worth the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crystal Ockenfuss snata rosa, CA 03-29-14
    Crystal Ockenfuss snata rosa, CA 03-29-14 Member Since 2013

    germanjunkie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Utterly Engrossing!"
    What made the experience of listening to Lost Girls the most enjoyable?

    The narrator's voice suited the material perfectly.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    all the girls were fascinating - so vulnerable and so brash. The author made it easy to see how the limited choices they had made the decisions they made seem reasonable. He was not uncritical but still deeply compassionate.


    Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

    He didn't really perform the characters (as this is non-fiction) but his voice seemed especially suited to the narrative thread surrounding Amber.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Lost Girls - America's Underside


    Any additional comments?

    It would be a mistake to simply view this book as 'true crime'. Kolker does not sensationalize the murders of these escorts. Instead, he take through their individual histories to show us how they each arrived at a point that made them particularly attractive to the killer. In addition, he offers balanced, intelligent social commentary on the changes the internet has wrought on the business of prostitution and shows the listener/reader how these changes (mostly cutting out the middle man pimp) both could have empowered and endangered the sex workers. This is a book that will make you rethink how the US regulates the sex trade - laws made to protect sex workers now seem to do more to force them deeper into the shadows, endangering them still further.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.