THE RESTLESS SLEEP:
INSIDE NEW YORK CITY'S COLD CASE SQUAD
Stacy Horn

 


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Bantam Press, 2005
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

True Crime

Author Stacy Horn spent two years working with New York City's Cold Case Squad. THE RESTLESS SLEEP is written in the true crime genre pioneered by Truman Capote. It follows four main cases that began as long ago as 1951, and brings them through to the present day. Horn focuses on the methodology of cold case investigations, reconstructing scenarios and interviews from dusty archival boxes and public record. In each of the cases Horn had access to the Cold Case Squad detective who worked the case, the commanding officer of their unit, and commanding officer of the Cold Case Squad.

Cold cases have recently become a popular device in crime fiction, both printed and televised. Many of these have a detective working a cold case in parallel to a current investigation, and invariably there are connections between the two. This level of coincidence is not really in evidence in true crime investigations, although it does appear that some cold cases are linked to more recent crimes by re-offending perpetrators. Horn's statistics 'prove' that solving cold cases does have a reductive affect on current crime rates. One of the points that Horn makes very strongly is that often the perpetrator of the unsolved crime has gone on to commit a number of other crimes, also unsolved. Thus the solving of a cold case can lead to the closure of a number of more recent cases where the perpetrator was the same person.

There is immense detail and evidence of considerable research in THE RESTLESS SLEEP. It includes a brief history of New York City's Cold Case Squad, and a chapter on the future of the squad. Horn obviously developed a strong affinity with the people she worked with and interviewed. At times the reader feels that the language she is using is theirs. She describes each of them and their interactions with each other and the hierarchy very carefully. She is convinced of the need for such a squad to achieve closure for those affected by the crimes, both families of victims and police units, however long the time between the original case and closure.

Those who enjoy real crime will relish the detailed reconstruction of these selected cold cases. Horn describes how her own interest was sparked by meeting members of the NYC Cold Case Squad during the days that followed 9/11. She has had a lifelong interest in the subject of death. She was struck by the fact that these cold case detectives were not at all what she had expected. She had not expected their compassion, professionalism, and humanity.

October 2006 Review first published on Murder & Mayhem

 

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