After Etan by Lisa R. Cohen
One minute. Maybe less. You can’t even say you turned your back. You only glanced at something there, admired something here, and in that breath of time when your eyes were elsewhere, your child disappeared.
You couldn’t think but your mind raced. You couldn’t speak, but you screamed his name. When your child is missing — even for 15 seconds – it’s not anywhere near your worst nightmare. It goes way beyond it.
In the new book “After Etan” by Lisa R. Cohen, you’ll read the true account of a child’s disappearance 30 years ago, how it affects us even now, and why you should still be concerned.
It was May 25, 1979, the school year was almost over, and for months, Etan Patz had begged his mother for more independence. Finally relenting, figuring that she could keep a long eye on him in the two-block distance between their apartment and the school bus stop, Julie Patz allowed Etan to walk himself to the corner.
She watched him for a few minutes then returned inside, confident that he’d be fine. But 6-year-old Etan never made it to school.
This being a time before Amber Alerts, missing child databases, or even little faces on milk cartons, the Patz’s friends and neighbors quickly mobilized and began a search. The police were contacted, and door-to-door canvassing was done. “Missing” posters were hung on every corner in Manhattan. Everyone even remotely connected to the Patz family was interviewed, but Etan had seemingly vanished without a trace.
But the trace was there.
Three years after Etan Patz went missing, prosecutor Stuart GraBois moved into the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York. GraBois was tenacious and relentless, and with the backing of then-mayor Rudy Guliani, he sunk his teeth into the Patz case. Starting from scratch, GraBois re-interviewed everyone and pored over stacks of documents. He chased every clue, even ones out-of-country. His persistence made enemies, including the parents of Etan Patz.
But GraBois had a reason for the digging: he knew that 6-year-old boys didn’t just disappear on their own.
He also knew that monsters really do exist.
Officially, the disappearance of Etan Patz hasn’t been solved, but author Lisa R. Cohen leads readers to a possible conclusion shared by many, including Etan’s father. Along the way, Cohen spins a tale that’s horrifying in the brutality of the crime, fascinating in the way it changed our national and local treatment of missing child cases, and thrilling in the jailhouse and legal maneuvers meant to catch the man GraBois says made a “90 percent confession.”
As a coup de grace to her tale, Cohen reminds us that this suspect, now behind bars, may be released from prison in the not-too-distant future.
Legal thriller and true crime fans will race through this real story. If you’re looking for a keep-you-up-all-night book, this is one to grab because — although it’s going to make parents cringe, cringe again, and hug their children tight — missing “After Etan” would be a crime.
strong>Laura Rider’s Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton
Why is it that we are so fascinated with old paintings?
Is it because we can sympathize with the poor soul in Munch’s “The Scream”? Do we long for a cool dip in Monet’s “Water Lilies”? Or maybe we know just what DaVinci was thinking when he gave Mona Lisa her devilish smile.
Perhaps we spend time gazing at the Old Masters because we think there’s little chance we could pick up a brush, dip it in paint, and create such a work of art.
Laura Rider knows she’s capable of great things, but she only needs a boost. In “Laura Rider’s Masterpiece” by Jane Hamilton, Rider doesn’t wait for inspiration to happen. She makes her own.
Everybody who meets Charlie Rider thinks he’s gay but Charlie’s wife, Laura, can attest that “everybody” is very, very wrong. Charlie is a virile man; so much so that Laura has told him she’s tired of everything in the bedroom, especially him.
But that doesn’t mean their marriage is over. Charlie and Laura Rider live a happy life. Side by side, they run the Prairie Wind Farm Nursery in Hartley, Wisc. Together, they have their cats and their plants. Separately, Laura has her new-found writing career and Charlie … well, he has whatever he has out in the nursery.
Charlie may be virile, but he’s not the smartest shoot in the garden. So when he meets Jenna Faroli by chance and seems taken by Charlie Rider, Laura is quite amazed.
Jenna Faroli, host of Milwaukee Public Radio, former Survivor cast member, former Mrs. America contestant, is probably the most well-known resident of Hartley. Laura has been listening to Jenna Faroli’s radio show since forever. Laura is a big fan and she wonders what it might be like to be Jenna Faroli’s friend. But Jenna Faroli seems to be a fan of Charlie’s, and the two strike up a fond e-mail friendship, the likes of which Laura Rider can’t ignore.
If a woman wants to become a famous writer, what better way to research a romance story than to watch it develop — with more than just a little assistance — right in front of her eyes?
I wanted to love this novel, but I didn’t.
And yet, I didn’t hate it, either.
I found “Laura Rider’s Masterpiece” to be merely okay. A “five” on a one-to-ten scale. Right smack in the middle between “must-read” and “throw-away.”
Maybe it was because none of the major characters are very likeable. Laura Rider is a clueless manipulator, Jenna Faroli is a silver-spooned snob and Charlie Rider is well beyond completely loony. Author Jane Hamilton is usually known for peopling her novels with players you care about, but I really didn’t give a hoot what happened to anyone here. Yes, readers will find a few (few!) smiles in this story, but nothing gut-busting. A laff-a-minute it’s not.
If you’re in the mood for a good summer read, look at another Jane Hamilton book instead. As for “Laura Rider’s Masterpiece,” paint it middle-of-the-road beige.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.