1964 photo of Barn where Mary Forschner’s body was found.
Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders by Brian E. Forschner concerns serial murders that occurred in the early 1900s, in the small town of Dayton, Ohio. The author delves into the stories of the victims, one of whom, he discovered was his great aunt. This is a historical true crime fiction written in detail and covers the history of Dayton as well as the way people lived then. In his book, the writer dealt with many issues. They included issues like people’s attitudes toward the crimes, the treatment of women, how the police worked in those times and racial discrimination to name just a few. It details the fate of five girls, Mary Forschner, Ada Lantz, Dona Gilman, Anna Markowitz, and Elizabeth Fulhart, who were all brutally murdered.
I went into the book not knowing what to expect, and I became captivated by what I read. I felt as if I was witnessing these events myself. I cried along with the families of the victims at the loss of their loved ones. I was angry with the neighbors for their insensitivity and the public for their part in destroying what was left of the families. I immediately recognized the wolf-like media and their desire to make a profit at any cost. I also blamed the police for their general incompetence when it came to resolving the cases among other things. I truly appreciated how the author did not sugarcoat anything and laid all the facts bare.
The care and research that went into writing this book was evident. The seamless weaving of factual accounts and the added narrative was superb. It was riveting how the writer managed to make the characters feel so real. The dedication shown in verifying facts, including providing photos of the victims, was mind-blowing. There was so much heart shown, that I could not help but root for not only the victims, but also the writer. The intention of this book was very clear from the very beginning, to bring a semblance of justice to the victims by shining a light on their forgotten stories.
It was quite comforting to examine the past and see how far we have come in terms of solving crimes. It also made me think about the many forgotten who may not have a chance to have their stories told. This book made me feel that even though there was no conclusive ending to the murders, at least someone cared enough to tell their stories. The only thing that I question about this book is the first murder; I did not quite see how it fit in with the remaining four. The first victim was quite a bit younger than the rest, which puzzled me. I wish more information was available that would show the link between the first murder and the rest.
I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars because I have never been so invested in the outcome of a book. I relished it so much, that I read it two times and I will leaf through it again, once the story has faded from my memory. I also did not identify any obvious grammatical errors, which showed that the book was edited professionally. I would recommend this story to all those who love crime fiction or are interested in stories situated in the early twentieth century. I cannot praise this book enough and hope to see more from this writer.