The Last Place You'd Look: True Stories of Missing Persons and the People Who Search for Them

Image of The Last Place You'd Look: True Stories of Missing Persons and the People Who Search for Them
Release Date: 
April 16, 2011
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Reviewed by: 

This book can be summed up in four words: It’s excellent. Read it.

If you need more details before opening the cover . . .

Carole Moore, a former investigative reporter and police officer, has harnessed her experience, her research and analytical skills, and her passion for the subject to write the definitive book about missing people.

Although mass media inform us regularly about kidnapped children and political hostages, thousands of people in the United States vanish under a variety of circumstances that don’t get publicized—even when their families beg and badger the press and police. Ms. Moore tells us why this is so, along with details about the people on both sides of the equation. It is a surprising and heartbreaking story.

Ms. Moore also provides information on how people can effectively search for lost loved ones. In the past, families have had to learn from scratch, under the worst distress, what help might be available when somebody disappears. The author eases that pain by not only describing the growing number of useful resources, but also compiling them in an appendix for easy reference.

In the main body of text, she devotes individual chapters to who goes missing and how—abductions, runaways, misadventures, violence—involving people of all ages and races, who are healthy or impaired, in America and elsewhere. She illustrates each topic with true stories, some of which are familiar because of the extensive coverage they received.

What makes the book truly comprehensive is how Ms. Moore includes everyone involved in a missing-person case. She profiles the victims—a shocking number of them, and nowhere near all—and never forgets them while presenting the viewpoints of their families, law enforcement officials, support providers, and the media. She knocks herself out to stay unbiased in showing the obstacles and pitfalls each party faces as well as the assets they offer. She even includes technology, describing what tools are used in searching and how they have changed over time, emphasizing what’s needed to improve the success rate. Then, like a good teacher, she models how all the elements can and should work together.

Despite the book’s somewhat clinical feel—loaded as it is with facts and figures—the author tells the missing-person story as if through a literary novel. She focuses on details that penetrate with emotional intensity, then flows on to paint the broad picture around them. Ms. Moore lends immediacy and credibility to the book by writing in her own voice and drawing from personal experience. She closes the overall story of despair with a collection of happy endings, giving the reader a sense of hopeful empowerment.

The Last Place You’d Look is lean, balanced, informative, and compelling. The more people who read it, the better chance any lost person has of getting found.