I wish I had gotten to this book before publication, but better late than never. I was offered an ARC and accepted gladly, as I’d wanted to read the book anyway. It then arrived weeks late, presumably because the USPS is having some capital ‘I’ Issues right now. The book was worth the wait, though, even if I was sort of unsettled and left a bit unsatisfied at the end. I believe the latter reaction has nothing to do with the book itself, but because of real life events. The book itself is a tight recounting of the crimes and investigation into the murders committed by the Last Call Killer, and an exploration of the lives of the victims and the gay nightlife of the 1970s-1980s and early 1990s, with a focus on NYC.
I really enjoyed this book. The true crime aspect of it wasn’t perhaps as satisfying as I wanted it to be, but due to the historical nature of the crimes; reluctant, missing, or dead witnesses; and a bungling move on the part of the NYPD in the last part of the investigation, not as much is known about the killer and his potential other victims as there should be, and the killer isn’t talking.
As mentioned previously, this book is just as much about the lives of the victims and the gay subculture during this time period as it is about the crimes. Elon states in his epilogue that he had a desire to “inquire into the secret lives of the victims,” at least the five known ones. (There could be dozens of others, but the killer was prematurely arrested before the investigation into him uncovered much of anything, including the crime scene, and evidence linking him to other murders. This is largely the reason behind my dissatisfaction upon finishing the book. There is so much we don’t know!) Running parallel to the murders is the threat of AIDS, which was at its height during the span of the murders. Green does a really great job painting of picture of this time period, and illuminating the lives of these men, who were not only murdered because of their sexualities, but whose murders languished unsolved and mostly uncared about for over a decade because no one really cared all that much about them. If nothing else, this book rectifies that.
[3.5 stars, rounded up]