The skeleton crew : how amateur sleuths are solving America’s coldest cases

From  Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Deborah  Halber

Title:  The skeleton crew : how amateur sleuths are solving America’s coldest cases 

I recently finished reading The Skeleton Crew: how amateur sleuths are solving America’s coldest cases by Deborah Halber. This book offered a fascinating insight into the world of the unidentified and missing and how a slew of amateurs are seeking to identify and reunite them with their families. The amateur sleuth is drawn to the search for a variety of reasons, ranging from a search for their own  missing loved one to pure altruism. I cannot fathom how the number of UID (Unidentified Dead) can be so high but it is estimated to be around 40,000 people. One of the reasons that the number is so high is that the little slip of paper known as a Driver’s License is easily lost, misplaced, or forgotten if perhaps one is intending only to run a quick errand. If this paper is not with the individual and some misadventure befalls the individual, it falls to the police to attempt identification. A tool to aid the police in clearing the backlog of UID is to have a website for law enforcement and the public to peruse if they are looking for a match to a missing person. In addition to national databases, many states have their own state websites for the Unidentified Dead. Pets are equipped with microchips and human beings are not. Now, just imagine how much this simple procedure would influence the number of UIDs. The Doenetwork.org, NamUS.gov, and many more exist out there. One only needs to use the search term “unidentified dead” and you will be inundated with sites on which you can expend and hone your sleuthing energies.

Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Mark Fuhrman
Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?
This is the true crime account of the murder of 15 year old Martha Moxley on her own property in the exclusive area of Belle Haven, Greenwich, CT. on October 30, 1975. Her neighbors were the Skakels, who are related to the Kennedys. From the beginning, many people suspected that someone from the Skakel household must have committed the crime, as the murder weapon was a golf club matching a set found in the house. Thomas Skakel, the 17 year old son of the widowed Rushton Skakel, emerged early as a suspect, since he was the last known person to see her alive. Ken Littleton, the 23 year old tutor who moved in that day, was a suspect for many years. Not only was the police investigation incompetent, but they tiptoed around the wealthy Skakels. It seemed the only way the crime would be solved would be a confession, because the police weren’t about to uncover anything useful themselves! Not until the existence of “the Sutton file” (a report by a private investigation firm, paid for by Rushton to clear Thomas’s name) became known did Michael Skakel (15 y/o at the time of the murder) become a suspect.

I like how Fuhrman explained how a murder investigation is supposed to be conducted, as he is a former detective with LAPD, most notable for being associated w/ the O.J. Simpson trial. A cast of characters would have been useful.

Blue Lightning

From  Eileen Effrat
Author:  Ann Cleeves
Blue Lightning
This is the fourth book in Cleeves’ crime series set in the Shetland Islands. Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez returns to Fair Isle to introduce his fiancée to family and friends. Shortly after their arrival, the well- known director of the island’s bird observatory is found murdered. Within a day the cook is found dead. As a storm rages across the island, no one can get on or off the island. When forensic help finally arrives, it is of little help. This is a mystery where motive is crucial. I would recommend beginning with the first in the series, Raven Black, followed by White Nights, and Red Bones.

Death of a chimney sweep : [a Hamish Macbeth mystery]

From Andrea Kalinowski
author: Beaton, M.C.
Death of a chimney sweep : [a Hamish Macbeth mystery]
 The latest in the Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton just appeared on the library shelves and what an entertaining read it was. Hamish is back with his seemingly lazy persona and smart, incisive brain. He is not ambitious and makes no secret of that fact. He is part of the landscape of Lochdubh and has faith in the people he polices. Outsiders are to be distrusted and every time a stranger appears in the small village, murder and mayhem follow. His pets, Sonsie and Lugs, are the only ones with whom Hamish seems able to commit and they repay his loyalty by defending his life. The murder victim is an embezzler and one of his victims was unable to contain his rage and ire at being duped and so stuffed the embezzler up a chimmey. The chimney sweep is an initial suspect until he is found on the moors, murdered. Hamish is the first to connect the dots with inituitive leaps and his theories prove true.