The Skeleton Crew

How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

The Skeleton Crew

Mary Roach meets C.S.I. in this “lively study that’s part whodunit, part sociological study…The result is eminently entertaining and will be devoured by armchair detectives” (Publishers Weekly).

Currently, upwards of forty thousand people in America are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It’s DIY CSI, solving cold cases from the comfort of your living room…

In an “absorbing look at a very odd corner of our world” (The Seattle Times), The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes–wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. These web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies.

There is “no better guide for navigating this multifaceted world than Deborah Halber’s book” (Psychology Today), and The Skeleton Crew probes the macabre underside of the Internet and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth. “Engaging and artful” (Los Angeles Times Review of Books), this witty and insightful look at the fleeting nature of identity is “brilliant” (The Wall Street Journal).
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451657593 | 
  • July 2015
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About the Author

Deborah Halber

Deborah Halber is a Boston-based journalist whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe; Technology Review; the interactive, illustrated digital magazine Symbolia; and many university publications. A native New Yorker, she received her BA from Brandeis University and an MA in journalism from New York University. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, and the National Association of Science Writers, she has chronicled breakthroughs in neuroscience, molecular biology, energy, and technology at MIT and Tufts, but is most enthralled with “quantum weirdness,” worm longevity, cell undertakers, and the properties of snail slime. Visit her at DeborahHalber.com.

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