4 out of 4 stars
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“It has been said,” time heals all wounds.” I do not agree. The wound remains. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.” said Rose Kennedy.
Cold Serial: The Jack The Strangler Murders by Brian Forschner is a crime narration. It deals with five girls who were murdered and raped in Dayton, Ohio, and possibly in Cincinnati, Ohio, between 1900 and 1909. The author has done some genealogical research when he learned about the demise of one girl, his great-aunt. The three-year vigilant research led Mr. Forschner to spotlight the lives of the five girls before their deaths and the drama that ensued after they were murdered. Ada Lantz, Dona Gilman, Anna Markowitz, Mary Forschner, and Lizzie Fulhart were girls who shared youth and beauty.
As soon as I started reading, I was transferred to Dayton, Ohio, in 1900. The book provides a glimpse into the living conditions in Dayton at the turn of the century. It also sets the stage for understanding the social, political, and cultural conditions prevalent during that era. Women were not given their rights. Sexism and discrimination were equally common.
Each chapter spans the details of each girl’s life, murder, and the events after her death. The series started with Ada Lantz, twelve at the time, who went missing after using the outhouse during her parents’ birthday party. Later that night, her family found her in the well at the outhouse. I quote a few heart-wrenching words. Those were Dr. Gaugler’s words, the doctor who brought Ada to life, and the one to examine her postmortem. “Give me a moment.” Gaugler paused, pulled out his kerchief, removed his glasses, and dabbed his eyes. Comfortable in the presence of a friend, he dropped his guard. “I brought this girl into the world. I watched her grow up and loved her like a daughter.”
It was commonplace for young females to work in order to supplement the family income. This entitled going back home in the dark, which put them in danger. The murders had the same modus operandi, and the Dayton monster had a prototype in Jack The Ripper, the London murderer. That’s where Jack The Strangler’s moniker emerged. The only relief came in the last chapter which witnessed a sudden turn of events and led to a satisfactory closure.
An in-depth look at that era shows that crime scene preservation in 1900 was still in its infancy. It was an intuitive exercise rather than a scientific one. It is outrageous how back in those days a person could be incriminated and arrested based on the word of mouth, with no tangible evidence. It was also common to have a suspect sent to prison based on a lead from the public. The media were also merciless and summoned to gossips. To add the insult to injury, the murdered girls were commonly blamed for what happened to them. It is interesting that modern-day victimology would link these murders together by age range and beauty. I found Ada, the first girl to be murdered and raped, younger than the rest of the girls, though.
I cannot think of a notable thing I did not like in this book, except for the abrupt ending of some chapters. The author was able to add an authentic dialogue and connect all the dots with such finesse. The genuine illustrations laced amidst the text were captivating.
This book should appeal to a wide range of readers. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers, you will be satisfied with this read. If you’re interested in historical narration, you will find this book true to the historical perspective. If you’re a human seeking truth and justice, you will find a voice for the silent in this book. I cannot recommend it enough. It is obvious that it was professionally edited because I did not encounter any grammatical errors, only one typographical error. And therefore without further Ado, I issue this book 4 out of 4 stars. It has a noble message that goes beyond a pleasurable read. It gives voice to the victims whose lives and innocence was taken prematurely in a barbaric way. Mr. Forschner’s deep research and eloquent writing made sure these girls are not forgotten, and their death does not go in vain. The girls’ cases became cold. But Cold Serial revived the hope of bringing them justice.
Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders
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