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Not my typical read but it’s nonfiction month in my mystery book club and this was the choice. The author is a reporter for one of my local news channels so it was close to home.
Vanished in Vermillion by Lou Raguse is a true mystery story of two girls who went missing in 1971 in Vermillion, South Dakota.
The book moves in chronological order. It starts with explaining the girls home life and background of their family and then moves to the events that happened in 1971 the day they disappeared. What was last known, where they were last seen, and how the local police department handled the investigation.
Most of the middle of the book is a guessing game of what happened to the girls as their car and bodies were not found. The author goes over other events in the area and criminals that are relative to the area. The investigation of the disappearance gets handed off to several people in law enforcement and each one implements something different with their ideas.
A few people in prison are given their stories as police suspected that these inmates may have had something to do with the disappearance and one was even tried for their murders.
The ending of the book goes over the discovery of the girls bodies finally in 2013. 42 years after their disappearance the bodies are found and a hypothesis was formed on what happened to them. Many of the family and friends of the girls had died by this point but the story finally gets its closure.
I liked this book, when I’m normally not a fan of nonfiction. It wasn’t boring and the storyline kept moving. I’m glad the girls were finally found but this book really shows how disappointing local, state, and federal law enforcement officers can be. These girls could’ve been found probably in the same year they disappeared, if local law enforcement did their job in the first place. And that is scary seeing as hundreds of people are still missing in the US to date.
★★★★ I would recommend it if you’re looking for some non-fiction reading.
OMBWarrior47 | 3 andra recensioner | Jan 17, 2024 |
Very thorough and complete from the beginning of the story to the end.
sdbookhound | 3 andra recensioner | Oct 14, 2023 |
Vanished in Vermillion: The Real Story of South Dakota's Most Infamous Cold Case by Lou Raguse is a very highly recommended account of a cold case being solved after over forty years but only after a series of unbelievable investigative deficiencies.

In May 1971, Pam Jackson and Sherri Miller were two seventeen-year-olds who disappeared when driving to an end-of-the-school-year kegger being held at a gravel pit out in rural, south eastern South Dakota. The girls, who were in Sherri's grandfather's rundown Studebaker Lark, didn't know exactly where the party was but they ran into some boys they knew from school and were following them down a dirt road when they disappeared. The boys assumed they went back to Vermillion to another party by the Missouri River.

It is at this point, right at the start, that the investigative failures began with a sheriff who treated the search very lightly, assuming, with no evidence, that the girls just ran away so he didn't bother to seriously look into their disappearance. The families all suffered, the girls were never heard from, and the case went cold. Thirty years later it was reopened by the cold case unit took and the twists, turns, and incredible incompetence that followed was unbelievable and went on for over a decade.

Raguse, an investigative journalist, does an excellent job thoroughly presenting the many details of this case from the start to the conclusion. The entire narrative follows the timeline of the events as they occurred so it reads like a procedural while it also clearly reveals the facts, failures, and foibles swirling around all of the official investigative attempts from start to finish. The actual closure of the case is found in such a careful, logical way it will dumbfound readers that no one thought to undertake that particular search.

The descriptions were true to life. Knowing the area well due to the presence of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, it was easy for me visualize and place the local small towns and distances between them. It also gave me a clear understanding of the layout of the land while following the revelations in the cold case.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Post Hill Press via Edelweiss.
SheTreadsSoftly | 3 andra recensioner | Feb 19, 2023 |
Vanished in Vermillion by Lou Raguse is an example of the type of true crime book that appeals to me, heavy on detail and narrative, light on sensationalism. The case covered is both mysterious (initially) and infuriating.

To give some background so you can understand where I am coming from, I like true crime but am not what is probably considered a big true crime fan. I find far too many give too little attention to the victim's and play up any sensational aspects which, for me, makes the read less enjoyable. That said, I still read too many of those types simply because some cases are only covered in such books.

Raguse organizes this book in a way that compels the reader to keep reading while also getting reader investment in the victims and their families. I like the somewhat slower but definitely more thorough approach he takes in setting the scene, telling the story as it was known and understood, or misunderstood, and in how the truth could come out not because of but in spite of local law enforcement.

This is one of those cold cases that can easily be ruined by giving away too many details, so I won't talk in detail about the parts of the book that I found most effective. What I will say is that we are led to the insights and discoveries very methodically and when we learn something new, we have the context already in place to understand it.

Highly recommended for those who love true crime and also those who like to learn about these cases but might shy away from the sensationalized accounts we often get. This one does not insult the reader's intelligence or assume you are coming to it just for explicit details.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.½
pomo58 | 3 andra recensioner | Dec 23, 2022 |
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