No case of child kidnapping since the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby has captured the hearts of Americans like the strange case of Etan Patz, the six-year-old boy who left for school one spring morning in 1979 and never returned. Now a book has been published that dispels much of the mystery surrounding this tragedy, explaining why this case has never been brought to justice in the 30 years since it took place.
Author Lisa Cohen is a TV newsmagazine producer who has covered the Etan Patz case for over two decades. In her research for the book, she drew on hundreds of interviews with the Patz family, the FBI, and the federal prosecutor whose pursuit of the prime suspect took him deeply into the dark minds and motives of child molesters.
While the subject matter is sensational, the writing style is clear and calm. Cohen clearly admires the people who did the detective work, calling them heroes and extolling their passion and force, yet never falling into the kind of melodrama that characterized much of the press coverage of the events. Attempts to unravel the details of crime stories most often offer little more than a dramatic rehashing of the facts. But somehow Cohen manages to provide a sense of closure to this unfinished story. Index.
Linda F. Burghardt is a New York-based journalist and author who has contributed commentary, breaking news, and features to major newspapers across the U.S., in addition to having three non-fiction books published. She writes frequently on Jewish topics and is now serving as Scholar-in-Residence at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County.