Saturday, January 19, 2013

book review: The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn

The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad 

by Stacy Horn

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I find police detective work fascinating, and I've never read a book that focused on cold cases, so I was looking forward to this book when I ordered it through interlibrary loan. Unfortunately, I found it rather disappointing.

One of the biggest problems I had with it was the writing style. It did not seem to suit the subject matter very well, because it was (at times) very chatty and informal. It sort of reminded me of a first draft by a student who has some good ideas but needs to learn how to revise and edit. I also found that Ms. Horn has a fondness for the melodramatic and several parts were quite heavy-handed. I know that murder is bad--I don't need you to convince me, over and over again.

I also had issues with the structure of the book. We are taken from topic to topic with no transitions--first there is a detailed description of a detective or two; then there is a detailed history of the origin of the cold case squad; then there is a brief intro to one of the cold cases. Then, just as quickly, we're back to talking about crime stats, now another cold case, now meet another detective, here's some more history, here's another cold case, let's go back to the first cold case...augh! The result is disruptive and disjointed.

If I had been Ms. Horn's editor, I'd have advised her to cut out most of the history of the Cold Case Squad and police department politics. Just as a cold case chapter was getting interesting, the book would switch back to talking about NYPD politics and the narrative would go back to inching along at a snail's pace. These details were just tedious--not nearly as interesting as the actual cold cases themselves.

As I mentioned, I was interested in the cold cases themselves--to be honest, this is the only reason I actually finished this book. I wanted to find out if the cases were ever solved, and if so, how. Overall, however, I can't really recommend The Restless Sleep. I am sure there's a great book to be written about New York City's Cold Case Squad, but this is not it.

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