Reviewed by Darcy Short

As Deborah Halber points out in her new book The Skeleton Crew, America has a shocking number of unidentified human remains sitting in storage in morgues. It is difficult for police to connect bodies to identities when clothes and wallets have been removed, so it is not uncommon for human remains to languish in storage and cold case files. With the rise of the Internet, civilian helpers have stepped up to help match remains to identities and close some of these cold cases.

Skeleton Crew

Halber’s book follows several communities of these “websleuths” and profiles a few of the cases these amateurs have solved. These stories are dramatic. Families spend decades wondering what became of their missing family members with no closure. Websleuths spend years sifting through data online trying to find matches and clues that police missed. To top it off, the online communities themselves have their dramas, with debates ending with flame wars, character assassination and hacking. Yet websleuths carry on, even when the police and their partners online do not listen to their theories. True crime fans will enjoy these stories.

Halber is a former newspaper reporter and public relations writer. Currently a freelance journalist, she is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Science Writers and PEN America. You may find her in the Boston area where she lives “in a house with a lot of former pets buried out back.”

Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
PubDate: 2014
ISBN: 9781451657586