Simon & Schuster, 2014
Book review by Robert A. Waters
The Skeleton Crew is both a history and a compilation of intriguing stories. By history, I don’t mean boring, academic stuff. Instead, Deborah Halber has used her many skills to scour the dark corners of the Internet from its beginnings to track down the earliest web-sleuths. She discovered a sub-culture of obsessed souls who live to give names to unidentified corpses.
One of those restless souls happens to be my good friend, Todd Matthews. If Todd wasn’t the first to solve an Internet cold case, he was certainly the first to get media attention for his cause. After using the Web to identify Kentucky’s long-lost Tent Girl, he was featured on the “Paula Zahn Show,” and written up in People Magazine. Todd’s dedication to learning the identity of the 40,000 nameless dead in America, his vast knowledge of Internet sleuthing, and his communication skills eventually landed him a job with the Department of Justice. Now he’s able to spend his life doing what he loves to do: solving the coldest of cases.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of other cold case junkies feeding their addictions on Internet sites that may—just may—have a tidbit of information about someone’s remains that washed up in some over-worked detective’s back yard. Halber tells the stories of the web-sleuths, and those of the long-lost dead whose families finally gained a bit of closure from learning where a missing son or daughter ended up.
I applaud author Deborah Halber for her tenacity and skill in negotiating agents, publishers, and editors in order to get this book published. As a first-time author, Halber has produced a masterpiece in the odd and sometimes macabre world of online sleuthing. I highly recommend The Skeleton Crew.