After Etan: The Miss­ing Child Case That Held Amer­i­ca Captive

Lisa R. Cohen
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011

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.

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