The Last Stone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

The book details entire transcript, albeit in dialogue-format, of a police interrogation with a potential viable witness who turns out to be the main culprit / accessory. Read-up may not be for everyone because it is tedious, and tiring, and also, though a guy a charged in the end to a life behind bars, there are so many things left unanswered (no fault of the investigators and author in this) - including the burial of body / throwing of ashes of the two girls. It's almost like hanging on to a thread while falling to the ground.
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3.5 rounding up to four because I did like it, I thought the perspective was new (at least to me) but it was a bit tedious at times. 

This book is about the cold case investigation of two young sisters, Katherine and Sheila Lyon. The Lyon sisters disappeared after a trip to the mall. The author, Mark Bowden, actually covered the beginning of the case when Katherine and Sheila were first reported missing so it's quite nice that he gets to see the end of this case.

The focus is on the investigation and the investigators. Unfortunately, sometimes the almost clinical transcriptions of the interviews are somewhat of a drudge...but isn't that what detectives do at times? Drudge work can get the job done.

The main suspect appears at the beginning of the book because he gives a tip to the police, but since it led nowhere and his interview was a bit kooky he came across as more of a time-waster than a suspect. Later cold-case detectives reviewed his tip and his resemblance to the suspect sketch from another tip and tracked him down.

The book itself is thorough and Bowden seemed to have access to the investigators because their moods and remembrances about events are detailed. Bowden captures the inhumanity of Welch's crimes and the disturbing lack of empathy from Welch's family. Those were truly chilling sections of the book.

I've been appreciating true-crime books which take a different approach than the norm. Here the kidnapping and eventual murder of the Lyon sisters aren't graphically detailed over chapters. Welch isn't glorified or thought of as a master criminal. Instead, the pain-staking investigation, the many interviews and the way the detectives gathered evidence of a crime that happened forty plus years ago create the narrative.

It's a good book, although some sections drag a bit. I liked the new perspective on the investigation and investigators themselves. I would recommend this book just for the amount of patience the detectives had when dealing with Welch and his family. The look into how a cold-case investigation occurs was fascinating and I don't think I've read anything like that before.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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I received an ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  This is my first time reading any of Mark Bowden’s work.  I hear his books are always informative.  I enjoyed the case but the book slogs through the full  interview transcripts.  I would recommend this book.
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Three and a half stars for this true crime book.  My heart went out to the parents and police investigators who worked this case.  A depiction of truly evil people who live among us with no sense of what is right and/or wrong.  I found myself so frustrated with the hoops the investigators had to jump through to try to determine what happened to Sheila and Katie and was even more frustrated to not know exactly what happened to them.  I was disheartened by the hours and hours of time spent interviewing and reinterviewing Lloyd Welch and his despicable family, with no clear results.  I cannot imagine how frustrated they must have been.  A good read, but also a frustrating one.  Many thanks to Mark Bowden, Atlantic Monthly Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of this recently published true crime story.
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I received an ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  I have always enjoyed Mark Bowden’s work.  His books are always informative.  I enjoyed the book but the story bogs down a bit with the full  interview transcripts.  If you want a good book about a cold case, this is it!
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Slow moving, a lot of telling rather than showing. The premise is great but the execution was off. It was hard to connect to the characters and become immersed in the story.
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A true story told by a man who was there when the crime first happened and stayed on the trail until it was solved 40 years later.  Newspaper headlines sometimes leave you wondering how there could actually be people in the world who would commit this kind of crime.  Mark Bowden does not try to sensationalize the story, it's enough of a truly horrible story to keep you thinking about it long after the end of the book.  This author lets the story unfold through time and does an excellent job of keeping you reading.  A sure fire winner that could easily be made into a movie.
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I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  I'm a huge fan of true crime so was interested in this right away.
I thought it was poorly written and became so redundant with the interviews.
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This extraordinary book about the long cold case of the kidnapping of the Lyons sisters decades ago in the Maryland suburbs of DC brought back memories I thought I’d long forgotten. 

I lived in DC when the daughters of John Lyons, a local radio personality, and his wife,  disappeared from the Wheaton Mall, apparently kidnapped, never to be heard from or seen again. While local police thought they had arrested the right suspect, there was never sufficient evidence to convict him, but he spent 30
years in jail nonetheless.

The book begins as he’s about to be released. An almost retired detective with eyes and ears for cold cases remembers the case when the release date draws near, and, not one for passing up an attempt to bring true justice to horrible people, starts talking to the guy (whose name escapes me right now) and in a masterpiece of detective work that no novelist, no matter how good, strings the kidnapper/killer along until there’s enough solid evidence to keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

While the family could never possibly recover from this tragedy, at least they are finally able to lay their daughters to rest in eternal peace. 

Despite the horrendous circumstances that this book describes, it is a masterpiece of outstanding writing. I could barely put it down. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. It’s just unimaginable that such horrible acts occur. And it’s remarkable when cases this cold are solved. My heart went out to the Lyons when this happened and it goes out to them again.

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley and give it my highest recommendation.
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4 stars - Thank you to NetGalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for allowing me to read and review this book. Published on April 2, 2019.

This is the nonfiction story of a gruesomely violent crime. A crime committed over 3 separate states, 41 years ago. Evidence was lost, eyewitnesses died, time erased memories, the family remained silent and it was often only speculation that bound the story together.

This was a kidnapping, a sex crime, and the murder of two little girls - known and sanctioned by a whole family. Many uncles and aunts and cousins were aware of this as it happened. Many took part. No one could find the missing girls. No one saved those little girls. No one reported their abductor.

This book is about 90% put together by reiterating the hours of taped interviews of one Lloyd Welch. The author states that there is some alteration for brevity sake. It took three detectives working on this cold case over 21 months to bring the truth to the forefront.

This is not a book to be read by those with a queasy stomach. Some scenes are horrifying. The patience of the three detectives interviewing Welch for hours on end and going back to it day after day is commendable. To be able to patiently sift through his lies and still remain civil to him was extraordinary. To be able to take that task on, allow it to run and at times ruin your life for 2 years, knowing that upon completion it would never go away, takes a very special person.

This is not only a book of a heinous crime but a book detailing the sad, mind suffering reality of what our cold case units do daily. Please be thankful for them.
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Mark Bowden is always a delight to read, but he outdid himself with The Last Stone. Bowden returns to a story he covered as a reporter: the disappearance of two young girls from a mall in 1975. This book is perfect for fans of true crime - a dedicated group of cops hunting for the truth, grotesque incidents that add light, and a writing style that propels the reader forward, always asking the next question. My bookstore has sold several copies already.
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I'm a diehard true crime fan so I was thrilled to get my hands on The Last Stone. It starts off interestingly enough: two young sisters go missing in the mid-1970s while at the mall buying pizza. What follows though is a twisted ride through stumped investigations, a fearful community, and one last effort to connect a man with the crime decades later. It's quite a ripe story but unfortunately it falls quite flat from in a narrative sense. It's less so a story and more a recounting of exhaustive interviews between cold case detectives and the suspect Lloyd Welch.

As a true crime fan it was very interesting to see such a real account of the interview process, how completely tiring and repetitive it can be to work a suspect into revealing more than he means to. I also enjoyed the light it shone on the detectives, the toll an investigation like this one takes, and their honest feelings about it all, even in regard to the 'mistakes' made in the process.

However, as a reader, there were long passages which fell flat and boring because of how true the accounting is. I found myself scanning pretty regularly just to get through the parts where again Welch is making excuses and terrible lies. It was very interesting at first but grew dull quickly and I really admire the detectives for being able to work with such person for so long and so thoroughly. I do wish the book had been more narrative in style to keep the reader engaged but I also understand and appreciate the decision for not doing so. I still think true crime fans would really enjoy this book but the casual reader might not find it as engaging.

Note: I received a free Kindle edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher Grove Atlantic, and the author Mark Bowden for the opportunity to do so.
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This book touts itself as "a masterpiece of criminal interrogation," and boy is this right on the money. The police investigators featured are truly dedicated to their job, however, it's the cold case team who reopened and pored over the case files from the abduction in 1975 and eventually solved the case; this true crime work follows the journey from the decade it happened right through to justice finally being served. I have heard that it's actually, unbelievably normal for some criminals to insert themselves into the investigation of a crime that they indeed committed, and this is exactly what happened here with Lloyd Welch, but at the time he was wrongly deemed a harmless drug addict.

The kidnapping of Kate and Sheila Lyon was journalist Mr Bowden's first big story and probably due to that it had a lasting impact on him leading to the writing of this book. I guess the title, The Last Stone, is in reference to the painstaking work of the cold case team in which they left no stone unturned to bring a sense of closure and justice to the Lyon family, in particular. It's as gripping and twisty as any thriller on the market; you really have to remind yourself that this is real life. The writing is engaging and immersive, and I found myself feverishly turning the pages to find out what happened.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best books showing the dedication and labour-intensive work the police force and, in particular, detectives carry out. Those interested in true crime, police investigations, psychology and behaviour profiling will find much to enjoy within these pages.

Many thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press for an ARC.
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This is a fascinating account of how police tease out a compulsive liar's story over a period of a couple of years that eventually yields mixed results. Two girls, Sheila, 12 and Kate, 10, disappear from a shopping centre in Washington DC in the 1970s. At the time, Lloyd Welch is 18 years old and gives the police an eye witness account of having seen them get into a stranger's car. The girls were never seen again and Lloyd's tip came to nothing.

In 2013, a detective working on cold cases looks again at the case and discovers that another witness account describes a man hanging around the shopping centre at the time the girls went missing who looked remarkably like Lloyd Welch. Lloyd Welch becomes a person of interest.

Bowden puts this story together in a compelling manner which had me turning the pages until the end. Most of the book comprises of the interviews police had with Lloyd. These were mostly more than 6 hours long and exposes not only the techniques the detectives used to get at the truth but also Lloyd's pattern of behaviour that would lead to a small breakthrough keeping the case alive. It also points to how an abusive childhood leads to generational consequences. For fans of true crime, this is a must read.
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This is a true crime cold case.  After 40 years the police are looking at this case yet again and trying to find the killer(s).  What they uncover is an extremely dysfunctional family orchard, not just a tree but a whole orchard of dysfunction.  It's an interesting story and I'm happy that the parents of the 2 little girls finally get some semblance of closure but...  This story was very dialogue driven and tedious.  Granted that is probably the way these interrogations go but it was very slow reading and lots of reiterating.  I did enjoy the book but I felt like I was slogging through it.
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I am a big fan of the author's work. Bowden has written great books in the past that I loved, including Black Hawk Down, Doctor Dealer, and Killing Pablo. His propensity for digging into a project until it has been fully examined, plus his great writing ability is phenomenal. 
Unfortunately, I do not feel that this is one of his better books. 
This is the story of the kidnapping of two young girls from a Maryland mall in 1975. At the time of the event, the case remained unsolved. It was one of Bowden's earliest assignments as a reporter. Many years later, a cold case detective team discovered a lead which had been missed. They followed the clues to a man who claims to have witnessed the abduction. The detectives found the man, Lloyd Welch, incarcerated. What followed was two years of interviews/interrogations of Welch, in which his story changed almost daily. The man was such a habitual liar that no one could ever discern the truth from him. 
Should have been an interesting read, but in actuality it was quite tedious. Basically just transcripts of the interviews. 
We will probably never know the truth of what happened to the two girls, or where their bodies may be. I feel horrible for the family.
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If you are a true-crimer like me, you get excited when you find a book that discusses a cold case, because it is always a bit of a miracle when a cold case is solved. However, this does not have as much of a satisfying ending. I didn't love this book, but I don't think it is the author's fault as much as it is just that the man investigated, Lloyd Welch, really irritated me, and frankly so did his entire family.

I liked how the author focused solely on the re-investigation more than 30 years after the disappearance of the Lyons sisters. I don't always like when an author focuses on the victims' families. I prefer to learn about the investigation process. The author displays the many interrogations the police had with Lloyd Welch, and after the third one, you can't help but feel that you get the point: he is going to lie and change his story every time. However, the author still discussed more interrogations, because every one of them revealed something new and different in the case. The patience of those detectives in search for justice was remarkable. It must have been so frustrating to have so many people lying to them on a regular basis and not be able to find solid proof (like DNA).

However, I will reiterate that this does not really have a satisfying ending, which is why I could not give this a 5-star rating. It was a frustrating read. Frankly, I feel that many members of the Welch family probably deserve to be in jail for either direct crimes against the Lyons sisters, other crimes that they seem to have committed based on interviews with them, or for obstruction of justice.
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Interviews that Solved a Cold Case Murder

Mark Bowden was a reporter on a local Washington DC paper when two sisters, ages 10 and 12, vanished from a suburban mall. The girls were never found, but thirty-five years later a cold case detective discovered a clue, missed at the time, that pointed to Lloyd Welch. Welch was incarcerated for sexual abuse of a girlfriend’s daughter when the case was reopened. 

Now that they had a viable suspect, a team was put together to investigate. Bowden joined the team. This is the story of that cold case investigation. 

The early chapters tell the story of the disappearance of the sisters and the first investigation. It’s well written, but reads like most true crime books. The majority of the book is taken up with interviews with Lloyd Welch. While the interviewing technique is interesting, it becomes repetitive after awhile. There are additional facts that fill out the crime and investigation, but the focus is on Lloyd and the clever interview techniques used by the investigators. 

If you’re a fan of true crime, or even police procedurals, this is an enjoyable book. However, be prepared for a slow slog in the middle. 

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
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Books that offer a view into a disturbed mind usually fascinate me. While The Last Stone has its moments of intrigue, overall I was disappointed in the content.

The author focuses almost solely on the interrogation of Lloyd Welch. The problem with this tactic is the constant repetition. Welch is a pathological liar who plays games with the detectives. During each session, Welch offers a slightly altered version of the story he'd previously told, and so we're reading a lot of the same things, over and over. The only reason it remains even semi-interesting is because the dialogue is lifted verbatim from the interrogations, and so we get an inside glimpse of the conversations between Welch and the detectives. 

The biggest disappointment for me was that the author made little attempt to give the Lyons girls an identity. They were just two girls, interchangeable with any other two girls. I learned nothing about who they were.

The content also doesn't offer us much of a connection with the cops involved in this case. I would have liked to understand what it was like for them to sit through dozens of hours interrogating Lloyd Welch.

A word of caution: This book has a lot of graphic detail about sexual deviancy with children. Lloyd Welch and his entire extended family are portrayed in a way I can't even fathom. Sexual abuse and incest were, apparently, the norm with almost all of these people. I don't think we needed the extent of details in all the situations described.

Overall, this book is notable for the insight into police interrogations, but it lacks insight into the broader aspects.
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