You can read and appreciate this book as a true crime thriller — it's got plenty of twists and turns, breakthroughs and roadblocks to the investigation at its center. But the real achievement here is capturing the lost queer New York City of the late '80s and early '90s — the bars where men who could not be themselves in public went to loosen their ties and live in the best version of a queer community available to them. Elon Green captures why it was so easy for an opportunistic killer to turn that community into a killing ground, but he spends equal effort on capturing who these men who became victims were, who they loved and what they feared, how they lived their lives in a time where they couldn't live as openly as gay men do today. The reporting and research is clearly thorough and exhaustive, but what I'll remember most is the voices of these men, murdered in a place and a time where no one was paying enough attention. Recommended By Tim B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The gripping true story, told here for the first time, of the Last Call Killer and the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon.
The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.
He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim.
Nor will he be his last.
The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.
This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience.
"This captivating and thought-provoking read is a humanity-filled twist on the true crime genre." Booklist
"Last Call feels like the most timeless literary true-crime classics, even as it forges a path through uncharted territory in the genre. Elon Green tenaciously yet gracefully investigates a time when so many lived in secret, and those secrets made them vulnerable to predation. A resonant, powerful book." Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls and Hidden Valley Road
"In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history." David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon
About the Author
Elon Green has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Columbia Journalism Review, and appears in the true-crime anthology Unspeakable Acts. He has been an editor at Longform since 2011.