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Robert Kolker Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Robert Kolker is an American published author. He is a journalist and a best selling writer.

Kolker has long been in the field of writing. At New York Magazine, he was a contributing editor. He also worked for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg News as a projects and investigations reporter.

As a journalist for magazines, he would often focus on different human narratives. Some of these included a World War II survival story that was unbelievable, a public education embezzlement scandal, how the stars of This Is Spinal Tap never came to see a profit from their work, the decline of the subway system in New York City, a detective with the police that brought down a child exploitation ring online, and more.

He is the author of Lost Girls, which came out in 2013. The book quickly went up the best sellers’ list of The New York Times. They named it one of their 100 Notable Books. It was also named one of the top ten books of the year by Publisher’s Weekly. His second novel would come out in 2020 and is titled Hidden Valley Road. It was selected as a featured book for Oprah’s Book Club and was also a best seller with the Times.

Lost Girls was made into a feature film. Lost Girls premiered in 2020 on Netflix. Liz Garbus directed and the movie starred Gabriel Byrne and Amy Ryan. Another one of his stories has also been made into a feature film. Kolker wrote a story in 2004 that was published in New York magazine, all about an embezzlement scandal that took place in a public school. The piece was titled “The Bad Superintendent”. It premiered in 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It came out in 2020 on HBO titled Bad Education and starred actors Allison Janney and Hugh Jackman.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery is the first novel to come out from Robert Kolker. This is the true life story of the search for an at-large serial killer in Long Island. The story goes into the dark world that exists for online escorts. For these escorts, making their money online is all too easy, although they come with some very large dangers.

This is the story of prostitution on the Internet as well as unsolved murders that take place in Long Island and are connected through the underbelly of the world wide web. Told with detail, it is a humanizing account of a story that happened in real life with all of the haunting aspects that come along with it.

One of these accounts takes place in 2010 on an evening in spring. Shannan Gilbert went suddenly missing. The vanishing of this young woman happened shortly after she had run through Oak Beach, a community on the oceanfront, screaming out loud. It was unfortunate that this event did not gain much attention.

The people that had heard that she had disappeared did not think about it too much. She was a 24 year old woman who had been fleeing the scene for unknown reasons, but was also a prostitute on Craigslist. No one knew why she had been running for her life. The police of Suffolk County appeared to not have paid that much attention to the case. That all changed seven months later.

That is when a highway bramble turned up a discovery that was gruesome and too horrific to ignore. It was four bodies that were wrapped carefully in burlap, spaced out evenly. While none of them belonged to Shannan Gilbert, it was still the start of the suspicion that something here was all together not quite right.

There had been other women that had disappeared as well. Maureen Brainard-Barnes was last spotted three years previous in Manhattan at Penn Station before going missing. In 2009, Melissa Barthelemy disappeared after last being spotted in the Bronx. Megan Waterman was last spotted in Long Island departing from a hotel a month after Shannan had gone missing in 2010. Amber Lynn Costello in 2010 months later was seen leaving a West Babylon home.

The four women all had something in common with Shannan. They were in their twenties, of petite build, were out-of-town escorts, and all advertising their services on Backpage and Craigslist. This is the story not only of their disappearances but the world that they belong to of escorting on the Internet.

It may be that earning money is easier online, but for some women, that ease of access and what came after came at a cost. Kolker has done intensive research, speaking with their family and friends to find out about their lives and their ambitions. He also investigated the neighborhood of Oak Beach which became the center of scrutiny from the media. This is a true life crime mystery of what happened to these women and a world that many would never even know exists.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family is the second novel to come out from Robert Kolker. This is the story of an American family of midcentury existence. They had twelve children. When six were diagnosed as having schizophrenia, they became central to the quest of science to figure out what is going on with this disease.

Mimi and Don Galvin were married and were having what appeared to be the perfect life. Don had moved the family to Colorado thanks to his employment with the air force. Their oldest child was born in 1945, with the youngest being born twenty years later in 1965. The family were like any other at the time, hard working and making their way up in a life for themselves.

However, privately the story played out in a shocking way. Everything from hidden abuse to sudden violence and psychological breakdowns occurred. By the time the seventies arrived and were partly played out, six out of the ten boys would be diagnosed schizophrenic. All within the same family. How could this possibly occur?

This Hidden Valley Road house saw events so unusual that the National Institute of Mental Health actually studied the Galvins, one of the earliest families studied. Kolker dives into the tale of a history of one family as well as schizophrenia’s scientific history and how the Galvins were involved in it. This is an intriguing read that you must check out yourself to get all of the detail to its fullest.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Robert Kolker

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