The Skeleton Crew

The Skeleton Crew

How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

Book - 2014 | First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It's DIY CSI. The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2014
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781451657586
Branch Call Number: 363.250973 H1286S 2014
Characteristics: 285 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 13, 2016

A well-written account of how internet-savvy true crime fans can now become armchair detectives and actually solve cold cases. At first reluctant to admit the public into their inner sanctum, police investigators are now becoming more willing to tap into their collective intelligence to help solve crimes. Across the country, police have begun to post databases of info on missing persons and unsolved cases. The book also tries to raise awareness of the problem of the number of unsolved murders involving unidentified victims.. a much larger problem than many realize, with the remains of Jane and John Does in the thousands in America's morgues and crime labs. They are waiting on someone.. perhaps even you or me.. to help identify them!

Dec 28, 2015

Readers of mystery fiction or true crime will find this book interesting. Unsolved murders in the US range from 10,000 to 40,000, as do the remains in morgues, buried nameless, or found every year. The advent of the Internet made inevitable the rise of "civilians" using it to try to make matches and bring closure to families. Halber, a journalist, probed the strange world of people who spend hours and in often years at, usually, outdated computers trying to solve their pet cases. In the beginning of this phenomenon, around the late 1990s, cops rarely cooperated with their efforts. Yet after a few widely publicized successes, some law enforcement departments began to accept their help. Halber doesn't present a history of the movement so much as describe several cases that interested her. She interviewed the amateurs, the law enforcement officials involved, and, when they were willing to talk to her, the families of the dead. Many cases are still open. "The Lady in the Dunes," a beautiful young woman, was murdered near Provincetown on Cape Cod, decades ago. Several long-term police chiefs spent their time in office searching for her identity and her killer, with the help of several amateur sleuths. No luck, yet. Halber also discusses dissension among people with a common desire to solve cold cases. A recent Washington Post article interviews a Chicago police detective who, using mostly DNA, is working to identify some of the victims of John Wayne Gacy, several of whom couldn't be identified at the time. So far, he's identified at least one of Gacy's victims, and other people unconnected with Gacy, some still alive, and been able to reunite them with their families. He credits one of the groups in Halber's book with helping him.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at TPL

To Top