In Light of All Darkness: Inside the Polly Klaas Kidnapping and the Search for America’s Child

Grand Central. Oct. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9781538725061. $32.50. CRIME
This book benefits from access to insiders. Historian/journalist Cross (What Stands in the Storm) is the daughter-in-law of the FBI agent in charge of the 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping and murder case, the abduction of a 12-year-old girl in front of her friends at a slumber party that caused a national outcry. The author had virtually unlimited law-enforcement cooperation with this book, and she conducted more than 300 interviews with witnesses. As a result, the book explains all steps of the investigation, shows how the FBI and local authorities marshalled and mishandled key evidence and witnesses, and details the roles of fingerprint specialists, forensic artists, and profilers. While police now have better investigative techniques, the author’s findings indicate that luck is a major factor in solving crimes. In this case, they encountered the killer early on but had no idea. This book contains crime scene photos.
VERDICT One of the best true crime books out there. It shows the anguish and toll on the investigators and witnesses to a heinous crime. True-crime and public-affairs readers will devour this well-researched book. It’s as good as the outstanding Unmasked by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher.
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