3 out of 4 stars
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Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders details the brutal rapes and murders of five women: Mary Forschner, Ada Lantz, Dona Gilman, Anna Markowitz, and Elizabeth Fulhart. Readers are taken to Dayton, Ohio in the early 1900s and join the horrifying journeys of each murder and the investigations that followed.
Brian Forschner began writing the story of these women after discovering his great-aunt, Mary Forschner, who had been missing from his family history. After discovering this long-kept family secret, he decided the women of these tragic murders deserved to be remembered and brought to life once more. Using narrative nonfiction, each chapter tells the different stories of the young women. Forschner describes the families of each victim, their murders, and the investigations.
It is obvious that Brian Forschners' mission in writing this book was to bring the memories of Mary, Ada, Dona, Anna, and Elizabeth back to life. In each chapter, he discusses how each woman was treated by the media in this town. At this time, it was important to show that these women died with dignity and "fought hard" against their attacker. The media focused on their purity and the women who were described as being "more experienced" were often accused of provoking such an attack. Reading his words, it felt as though Forschner wanted to show that the fate that befell these women was no fault of their own. I appreciate the respect for these young women Forschner demonstrated through his writing. He successfully brought justice to each of their stories!
The author used a lot of the criminal jargon that would have been used during the investigation. He explained each terminology well and this added an interesting aspect to the story. He highlighted the difficulty of solving such a case given the limitations at the time. With each murder, the readers feel the frustrations of the detectives and the fear of the townspeople.
It is obvious that Forschner spent a great deal of time researching these murders and searching for accurate information. He includes real pictures from the newspapers and, when possible, he includes dialogue that had been recorded.
Given that each chapter told the story of a different woman, the pacing of this book was very up and down. Parts of the investigation could become repetitive and slow. Though it is important in the telling of this story, much of the scenes in the courtroom and interrogations felt as though it dragged on unnecessarily.
Brian Forschner wrote a heartbreaking narrative and brought justice and remembrance to these women. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime and is not too faint of heart. Because of its inconsistent pacing, I would give Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders 3 out of 4 stars.
Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders
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