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Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed Americaby Les Standiford
Synopses & Reviews
Before Adam Walsh there were no faces on milk cartons, no Amber Alerts, no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no federal databases of crimes against children, no pedophile registry. His 1981 abduction and murder — unsolved for over a quarter of a century — forever changed America.
One sunny July morning in 1981, Revé Walsh and her six-year-old son Adam stopped by the local Sears to pick up some new lamps. Enchanted by a video game at the store's entrance, Adam begged Revé to let him try it out while she shopped. When she returned a few minutes later, Adam was gone.
The shock of Adam's murder, and of the inability of the police and the FBI to find his killer, radically altered American innocence and our ideas about childhood. Gone forever were the days when parents would allow their kids out of the house with the casual instruction "Be home by dark!"
Revé and John Walsh — who would go on to create America's Most Wanted — became advocates for the transformation of law enforcement's response to and handling of such cases. Prompted by the Walshes' activism, Congress passed the Missing Children Act in 1982, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was founded in 1984.
While our lives have been significantly altered by Adam Walsh's case, few of us know the whole story — how, after more than twenty-seven years of relentless investigation, decorated Miami Beach homicide detective Joe Matthews finally identified Adam's killer.
Bringing Adam Home is the definitive account of this horrifying crime — which, like the Lindbergh kidnapping fifty years earlier, captured public attention — and its aftermath, a true story of tragedy, love, faith, and dedication. It reveals the pain and tenacity of a family determined to find justice, the failed police work that allowed a killer to remain uncharged, and the determined efforts of one cop who accomplished what an entire legal system could not. As harrowing as In Cold Blood, yet ultimately uplifting, Bringing Adam Home is the riveting story of a triumph of justice and the enduring power of love.
"On July 27, 1981, six-year-old Adam Walsh disappeared from a Sears store in Hollywood, Fla., and his partial remains were found in a canal two weeks later. Novelist and nonfiction author Standiford (Last Train to Paradise) charts with devastating precision the decades-long search for the killer and the evolution of Revé and John Walsh (John was executive producer and host of America's Most Wanted) from grieving parents into powerful advocates for missing children. In 1983, Jacksonville police arrested drifter Otis Toole for arson and murder, and he began talking about a little boy he'd killed in south Florida. Myriad confessions (and retractions) followed, containing details only the killer would know, but evidence disappeared, potential witnesses were never interviewed, and Toole was never charged. Convicted on other charges, he died in prison in 1996. Twenty-five years after Adam's abduction, the Walshes asked Matthews, a renowned polygraph investigator and retired detective, to conduct an independent investigation; Matthews concluded that Toole was the killer. Standiford's account is riveting, heartbreaking, and supports John Walsh's statement: 'it's not about closure; it's about justice.' 8 pages of color photos. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Intertwined with this true-crime chronicle is the important story of how Adam's abduction turned his parents into powerful advocates for crime victims and how law enforcement agencies across the country changed their response to missing children cases." Orlando Home and Leisure
"Les Standiford's account of the decades-long attempt to solve the murder of Adam Walsh is chilling, heartbreaking, hopeful, and as relentlessly suspenseful as anything I've ever read. A triumph in every way." Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island
"Bringing Adam Home is a riveting account of a child abduction and murder that goes unsolved for twenty-seven years — both an unsettling expose of police incompetence and a portrait of an extraordinary and dedicated detective." Joyce Carol Oates
"Bringing Adam Home is one of the finest true-crime books since Thomas Thompson's Blood and Money....This remarkable story will bring readers to tears of grief — and rage." Associated Press
"[M]ystery writer Les Standiford, in collaboration with Detective Sgt. Joe Matthews, has written a riveting and page-turning account of this heart-wrenching story." BookReporter.com
"An essential read for those interested in forensic science and true crime." Library Journal
"While many true-crime books claim to shine a light on society by examining one particular case, this account actually does. No reader can come away from this without appreciating what it takes to keep pursuing an investigation, against the obstacles of police politics and bureaucracy. Wrenching and riveting." Booklist
"Standiford and Matthews relate Matthews' quest skillfully." Dallas Morning News
"[A] heartbreaking story of incompetent police and determined parents....Novelist and nonfiction author Les Standiford does a masterful job of re-creation, reporting and research...readers will be haunted by the maladroit investigation and the added anguish this caused the Walshes." Los Angeles Times
"[A] page turner...hopeful and heartbreaking, Bringing Adam Home is tough to forget." People
"Not since In Cold Blood has the story of a terrible crime been told with such elegance and power....Heartbreaking and hypnotically suspenseful." Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Vanished
"Bringing Adam Home is a maddening, terrifying and ultimately triumphant book. Les Standiford explores the injustice and finally justice surrounding the murder of Adam Walsh. You will cry and rage but you will not be able to put this book down until you finish it. My God! What a book!" Ann Hood, author of The Red Thread and The Knitting Circle
"A riveting, harrowing, tautly suspenseful book that reads like a crime novel...but is all the more chilling for being fact, not fiction." St. Petersburg Times
"Compelling, bittersweet...ably fleshes out the difficult yet familiar story with style, pathos and relevant historical detail." Miami Herald
"I didn't live far from the mall where Adam Walsh was kidnapped. I remember that story as if it were yesterday. It terrified me as a kid. But it's the details that Les Standiford has found that terrify me as an adult. Insightful, horrifying, and just beautifully written." Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Fate
About the Author
Les Standiford is the highly acclaimed author of Spill, Done Deal, Raw Deal, Deal to Die For,and Deal on Ice,and is the recipient of the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. He is the director of the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and their three children.
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