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The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice

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Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster -- or monsters -- stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and h Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster -- or monsters -- stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn't stop searching until his death 30 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims' families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person? Or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own? Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations about how this serial killer got away. And through her investigation, Vanessa discovers the unthinkable: like the notorious Golden State Killer, the Forest City Killer is still alive . . . and a simple DNA test could bring him to justice.


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Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster -- or monsters -- stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and h Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster -- or monsters -- stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn't stop searching until his death 30 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims' families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person? Or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own? Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations about how this serial killer got away. And through her investigation, Vanessa discovers the unthinkable: like the notorious Golden State Killer, the Forest City Killer is still alive . . . and a simple DNA test could bring him to justice.

30 review for The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Perhaps because of its unique social geography, the degradation of mid-sized city economies, or the silo effect of the city's makeup, London seemed the perfect place for sex traffickers, drug dealers, and serial killers. They stopped here on their way through, as Ontario's superhighway 401 connects us easily with Detroit and Toronto. The Forest City was made a safe haven for the worst criminals by the covered eyes and ears of our citizens. Londoners can be remarkably incurious people. My husb Perhaps because of its unique social geography, the degradation of mid-sized city economies, or the silo effect of the city's makeup, London seemed the perfect place for sex traffickers, drug dealers, and serial killers. They stopped here on their way through, as Ontario's superhighway 401 connects us easily with Detroit and Toronto. The Forest City was made a safe haven for the worst criminals by the covered eyes and ears of our citizens. Londoners can be remarkably incurious people. My husband was born and raised in London, Ontario, apparently at the same time that that small, conservative city was unofficially known as the serial killer capital of Canada (and perhaps even of the world), and while reading Vanessa Brown's account of those still unsolved murders, The Forest City Killer, I couldn't help but wonder what those years must have been like for my inlaws: bringing children into a world where the daily headlines warned of young people being found raped, murdered, and left, half-naked and bloodied, exposed to the elements. When I asked my husband about this, he said he had never heard of any connection between London and supposed serial killers while growing up (giving credence to Brown's assertion that Londoners are particularly good at ignoring their city's unseemlier side), and it seems outrageous that fifty years later, these victims' families are still awaiting justice. As Michelle McNamara did for the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark (who was eventually found as a result of the attention McNamara brought back to those murders now attributed to him), Brown's primary purpose seems to be to revive these cold cases and put pressure on the various police departments to retest evidence, follow up on new connections, and get the public talking again, perhaps prompting people to finally reveal what they know. With a respectful discussion of the various crime scenes and an always empathetic narrative around these victims and their families, Brown strikes just the right balance between relaying information and maintaining dignity for those involved; a worthwhile project, done well. (Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Someday, someone is going to write a book about the English case, as we are dealing with some of the wackiest people that existed. Mrs. Harrison and Glen Fryer were both insane. Even a TV drama could not come up with weirder people. – Dennis Alsop Jr As an amateur historian, journalist, and trained antiquarian who runs an independent used bookstore in London, Ontario, Brown has both officially and informally spent her life collecting the stories of the locals she meets and talks to every day. After learning about London's history with serial killers from Michael Arntfield's Murder City, Brown eventually arranged a meeting with Dennis Alsop Jr: the son of a detective with the Ontario Provincial Police who investigated many of London's murders in the late 60s/early 70s, and who is now in possession of his deceased father's personal archives. With the aid of this new information (including Alsop Sr's personal theories; those things the police know but can't prove in court), Brown develops and relates her own theories, apparently unique in the online sleuthing community, and if any of this can catch a killer while he may still be alive, it seems a worthy project. What I might object to is the middle chunk of the book – focused on the strange and coincidence-laden story of “the wackiest people that existed” – that makes for interesting reading, but may only be tangentially related to the case that Brown is building. And while I appreciate the frustration that the victims' families and modern researchers might feel towards what they now regard as shoddy police work at the time, Brown spends a lot of ink editorialising about those investigations when she could just let the facts speak for themselves. It would seem that at the height of the runaway hippie days, the police were unwilling to search for missing young women until weeks passed (assuring a family that their long-missing daughter “is probably off somewhere married by now”, or in the aftermath of a church group needing to organise its own search party when the police refused, officially commenting, “If three hundred men couldn't find her, I doubt three hundred and six could have either”). There's no arguing that victim shaming and moral relativism were prevalent in those chauvinistic days: A coroner sneers that a teenaged murder victim hadn't been a virgin, a divorcee probably wasn't the victim of rape because people knew she liked to sleep around, it's implied that a sex predator could have been contained if his wife had met his needs, a judge cautions a jury that they couldn't add rape to a murder charge if it's found that the body had only been violated after death. Weird and nasty stuff to the modern reader. When an adolescent is found dead, bloody and bruised, her genitals exposed and her mouth stuffed with pink tissue, the police reaction is incredible, but I didn't need Brown to spell it out for me: Detective Herb Jeffrey said, “We feel the victim knew the person who picked her up.” When asked about the type of person who would commit such a disgusting, violent act, Jeffrey ruled out an abnormal mind. He said, “Perverts destroy. This was more like the work of a healthy male.” The implication was that a man had been overcome with lust and arousal, that this kind of behaviour – kidnap, murder, and sexual assault – was just a natural offshoot of a healthy man's desires. Inserting herself into the narrative did add interest for me – learning the history of Brown's research made the subject matter more relatable, as did the local colour she could provide as a resident of the setting – so it's not that I wanted Just the facts ma'am, I just found the running commentary about the state of police work back in the day to be too often snide. I was fascinated to learn that the first detective to respond to a murder case back then would write his name on the victim's hand before anything else to claim the case (talk about corrupting a crime scene!), and I agree with Alsop Jr's assertion that the police often forget that investigations belong equally to victims' families and information and evidence shouldn't be so jealously guarded from them (nor, for that matter, should the victims' non-evidentiary belongings be held indefinitely as their families plead for their return). Brown quotes often from Murder City, makes reference to coverage of some of these murders on the television show To Catch a Killer, and discusses the online sleuthing devoted to London's serial killers on the website Unsolved Canada: it would seem that even if people can live their entire lives in London without knowing it had been the serial killer capital of Canada, there are still many people committed to solving these decades-old cold cases. If, as with the Golden State Killer, the Forest City Killer is caught as a result of this fresh focus on the facts, any narrative quibbles I might have would be moot. I hope that is the case.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    London, Ontario, aka Forest City and the setting of this particular book, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s as it follows a string of tantalizing unsolved murders there which left some believing that there was a serial killer plying his trade. It gives a good account of the murders it goes into, giving background detail and a good amount of local color. Some happen in small towns very nearby, but seem to be obviously linked. There are good debates about different suspects that Detective Als London, Ontario, aka Forest City and the setting of this particular book, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s as it follows a string of tantalizing unsolved murders there which left some believing that there was a serial killer plying his trade. It gives a good account of the murders it goes into, giving background detail and a good amount of local color. Some happen in small towns very nearby, but seem to be obviously linked. There are good debates about different suspects that Detective Alsop is mulling over as they bring themselves to his attention, all for different reasons. I think most true crime readers would enjoy this one, as well as those who like reading about crime in other countries like Canada. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Vanessa Brown, and the publisher. First published on my WordPress blog seen here: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This book seriously suffers from discontinuous story lines. It puts forth the theory that a string of sexual murders in the 1960s in London Ontario were all committed by one individual. I found it unconvincing and frustrating to read. It seems to be more an outline or notes for a book rather than finished work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    Story - 4/5 Narration - 4.5/5 ◆ this is unusual for a True Crime ◆ more advocacy than straight TC ◆ reads a little like a diary, the author injects her biases too frequently, I think. ◆ i haven’t looked, but this author may be a 'journalist' ♣︎ having said all that, it wasn’t awful and the narrator was pretty good, so i stuck with it. ♠︎ Criticism - as Joe Friday would say "Just the facts, Ma'am. " Story - 4/5 Narration - 4.5/5 ◆ this is unusual for a True Crime ◆ more advocacy than straight TC ◆ reads a little like a diary, the author injects her biases too frequently, I think. ◆ i haven’t looked, but this author may be a 'journalist' ♣︎ having said all that, it wasn’t awful and the narrator was pretty good, so i stuck with it. ♠︎ Criticism - as Joe Friday would say "Just the facts, Ma'am. "

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley If you are American (and maybe if you are not), Brown’s book is going to remind you on some level of the Golden State Killer. Which is strange because the only thing that the two books have in common. Brown’s book details the unsolved killings of young people, mostly girls, in London Ontario that occurred in a period starting the 1960s. While Brown does work as a bookseller, she is also a knowledge local historian. She brings a local’s knowledge to the story, and th Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley If you are American (and maybe if you are not), Brown’s book is going to remind you on some level of the Golden State Killer. Which is strange because the only thing that the two books have in common. Brown’s book details the unsolved killings of young people, mostly girls, in London Ontario that occurred in a period starting the 1960s. While Brown does work as a bookseller, she is also a knowledge local historian. She brings a local’s knowledge to the story, and this is invaluable when she is discussing not only the geography and public transit but also the family and society structures and norms that existed. Brown may not be a formal reporter, but she is aware of her inexperience and in many ways, her curiosity lends itself to the reader, and her sympathy in particular for the families, does not feel intrusion. The information was gathered not only from newspaper articles and reports, but also from interviews and private papers. While at times she does use the pronoun “I”, the personal intrusions are kept to a minimum and, for the most part only there to indict an inability to contact a person, find information, or to provide an local’s insight on a place or a bus route (considering how many people fail to realize buses don’t always run 24/7 this is important). I do wish that Brown had a little more context or criticism about the judgment that occurred to some of victims, in particular those women who were not virgins. There is a bit, so she does take it into account. It’s just more a personal preference issue. A good read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    The Forest City Killer is the story and investigation of the disappearance and subsequent murder of Jackie English, a resident of London, Ontario in 1969. Having read, reviewed and interviewed the author of Murder City, a book about both the murders in her hometown of London, Ontario between 1959 and 1984, bookseller and author Vanessa Brown’s curiosity about the unsolved murder of Jackie English inspired her to dig deep and write her own book focusing specifically on English’s mysterious death. The Forest City Killer is the story and investigation of the disappearance and subsequent murder of Jackie English, a resident of London, Ontario in 1969. Having read, reviewed and interviewed the author of Murder City, a book about both the murders in her hometown of London, Ontario between 1959 and 1984, bookseller and author Vanessa Brown’s curiosity about the unsolved murder of Jackie English inspired her to dig deep and write her own book focusing specifically on English’s mysterious death. Through interviews with those connected to Jackie and with access to Detective James Alsop’s files – the man obsessed with bringing to justice the person responsible for English’s grisly death – Vanessa reopens the case and furiously investigates with the hope of solving the decades old cold case. There’s nothing special about Jackie’s disappearance in and of itself. She had been waiting for a bus following her shift when she was picked up on the side of the road by an unidentified man driving a Ford. Witnesses were sparse, but they all seemed to corroborate one another’s story. The sad fact is that Jackie’s disappearance was one of many during this time and what author Vanessa Brown hopes to accomplish is to lay out the evidence to support her theory that Jackie’s murder, and several others, were possibly committed by one or two men. Brown examines the similarities among the murders of Jackie and those of several others during the latter half of the 1960s. There are several items that can connect them but at the time, investigators were quick to wash their hands of the potential of a serial killer living among them. Seeing as the case remains unsolved, a book of this nature could possibly fall into the trap of editorializing and manipulating evidence to support the author’s agenda but Brown is very quick to differentiate her theories from the hard facts and how they connect. There are more than a few staggering revelations here – the biggest surrounding a section of the book devoted to the murder of Georgia Jackson. Brown believes this may be the earliest murder connected to the Forest City Killer. However, the surprise lies in the judge’s throwing out of the rape charge given that he didn’t believe he could classify as rape what the killer did after the victim had passed.. The book is filled with how those responsible for investigating and carrying out justice seemed to fumble their responsibilities. The Forest City Killer continues the trend of amateur sleuths doing the heavy lifting for the overworked or possibly apathetic law enforcement as seen in books like Michelle MacNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and James Renner’s True Crime Addict. Given the crowded market place and the high expectations put forth by true crime aficionados, there isn’t any room for slackers. Brown is the furthest thing from lazy in putting forth the effort to compile an engaging narrative surrounding the mid-century killings and allows readers to digest the evidence and make up their own minds about who is responsible. Side note: this book contains one of the most Canadian paragraphs I’ve read in a book: An hour’s drive southeast of London, Aylmer is a small town. It serves as a hub for summer tourists at nearby cottages, where city dwellers vacation along the shores of Lake Erie. The population swells during hot weather. Crowding the sidewalks in their swimsuits and flip-flops, families check out little boutiques, get some beer at the LCBO for a campfire, buy some bug spray at Shoppers Drug Mart, and grab four litres of bagged milk from the Valu-mart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jon Recluse

    3.5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    London, Ontario earned its nickname ‘The Forest City’ during its establishment in 1826, when it was little more than a village among the trees. Today, London is a mid size city with a population of about 400,000 that spreads out along the River Thames. London is a community much like any other, but from 1959 to 1984, the town was said to have had more active serial killers than any other locale in the world. It was reported by criminologist, Michael Arntfield in his book Murder City, that there London, Ontario earned its nickname ‘The Forest City’ during its establishment in 1826, when it was little more than a village among the trees. Today, London is a mid size city with a population of about 400,000 that spreads out along the River Thames. London is a community much like any other, but from 1959 to 1984, the town was said to have had more active serial killers than any other locale in the world. It was reported by criminologist, Michael Arntfield in his book Murder City, that there were at least six serial killers active in London during this era, including Russell Maurice Johnson known as ‘The Bedroom Strangler’, Gerald Thomas Archer known as ‘The London Chambermaid Slayer, and Christian Magee known as ‘The Mad Slasher’. The Forest City Killer explores the murders of several young women and children, linked by location and manner of death, whose killer/s were never officially identified. Amateur historian, writer, and antiquarian bookseller Vanessa Brown presents Information about several of the cases that remain unsolved from the late 1960’s drawn not only from public record but also her own interviews with relevant persons, and from the personal files of a (now deceased) detective who played an active role in the investigation of these crimes. Brown begins with the murder of fifteen year old Jackie English, who disappeared on her way home from work one evening in 1969. Her nude body was found under a bridge a few days later, she had been beaten, raped and strangled. Her unidentified killer, is who Brown calls ‘The Forest City Killer’, and it is this case that she finds the most compelling. Brown’s personal theory links the murder of Jackie English with the murders of at least two other teenage girls, Jacqueline Dunleavy, and Soraya O’Connell, as well as a woman in her mid-thirties, Helga Beer, and three young boys, eleven-year-old Bruce Stapylton, nine-year old Frankie Jensen, and sixteen year old Scott Leishman. I’m not sure I agree that all the murders, and at least one other disappearance, are the work of a single killer, but Brown does suggest points of comparison that could be of significance. Unfortunately the investigation of the cases were cases were uneven, largely a byproduct of the times. The police chief was uninterested in the disappearance of young women in particular, quick to suggest they were off partying, or were simply runaway’s, so official searches were delayed. The London police force also generally lacked experience, and an understanding, of sexually motivated crimes, evident by some shocking statements of victim shaming. While blood, fluids, and other evidence were collected from many of the scenes, forensic investigative techniques at the time were primitive, and it is unclear if any of it still exists. Brown’s material on these unsolved cases is interesting and readable, though at times the narrative feels a little cluttered with extraneous personal detail. I do think the book would benefit from summary’s of each case’s details, and perhaps a comparison table, or something similar. Brown states that her main purpose in writing The Forest City Killer is “…to renew interest in these unsolved cases and to urge the Ontario Provincial Police to re-investigate these crimes vigorously, using all DNA and other evidence in their possession.” I hope that her aim is achieved and the family’s may finally get the answers they have long hoped for.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amie's Book Reviews

    Researcher Vanessa Brown grew up in London, Ontario, Canada and resides there to this day. It is in her beloved city where she owns and operates a used book store and as an avid local historian, she has authored and/or edited several local history books. London, Ontario is also known as "The Forest City" hence the title of this book. I have a keen interest in True Crime, biographies and historical non-fiction. It is because of this that I was drawn to THE FOREST CITY KILLER. Also, since I live i Researcher Vanessa Brown grew up in London, Ontario, Canada and resides there to this day. It is in her beloved city where she owns and operates a used book store and as an avid local historian, she has authored and/or edited several local history books. London, Ontario is also known as "The Forest City" hence the title of this book. I have a keen interest in True Crime, biographies and historical non-fiction. It is because of this that I was drawn to THE FOREST CITY KILLER. Also, since I live in Ontario, Canada and have visited all the locations mentioned in this story, and in fact, I  attended the same high school (Sir Frederick Banting High School in Alliston Ontario) as convicted murderer, David Bodemer, I knew I just had to find out the details of the murders which took place only a few years before I was born. Author VANESSA BROWN has taken the story of murder most foul and crafted a true tale of intrigue with so many twists and turns that it is almost unbelievable. It is said that "Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction," and in the case    of the FOREST CITY KILLER this statement proves to be true. Untangling the web of murders as well as entertaining multiple theories, the writing of this book must have been a monumental task and yet Vanessa Brown proves herself as adept in not only untangling the many strands of the web, but also in providing readers with a chohesive and coherent timeline and a theory that comes across as convincing. In fact, maybe Vanessa Brown has missed her calling - she would make a phenomenal cold-case investigator. My only negative feedback about THE FOREST CITY KILLER is the overabundance of footnotes. In my opinion, if the note is worthy of being included in the book, then it can easily be added to the main narrative. I found the footnotes interesting and was glad the information they contained was included, however I found them overly distracting. Hopefully, since the copy I received was an ARC (Advance Review Copy) that these footnotes will be worked into the body of the book. Included in the book are many photographs including pictures of the eleven victims and photos taken at the time the bodies were found. This allows readers to feel an extra connection to the cases. I rate THE FOREST CITY KILLER as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.** To read more of my reviews and to enter some awesome giveaways, visit my blog at http://Amiesbookreviews.wordpress.com Follow me on Instagram @Amiesbookreviews

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I received an ARC from Netgalley called The Forest City Killer by Vanessa Brown. This is a true crime about a serial killer and rapist operating in Canada in the 1960s and early 70s. Vanessa Brown is not a journalist but a citizen who lives in the same area where the serial killer was targeting victims. She interviewed surviving family members, read detective's notes, and even tried to interview potential suspects. Unfortunately, this case is still unsolved which made me feel very unsatisfied wit I received an ARC from Netgalley called The Forest City Killer by Vanessa Brown. This is a true crime about a serial killer and rapist operating in Canada in the 1960s and early 70s. Vanessa Brown is not a journalist but a citizen who lives in the same area where the serial killer was targeting victims. She interviewed surviving family members, read detective's notes, and even tried to interview potential suspects. Unfortunately, this case is still unsolved which made me feel very unsatisfied with the story. She will talk about a location and then includes snippets of her life. For example; suspect went to this church then she will mention her grandma went to the same church. She includes unnecessary details about where everyone lived which may be interesting if you lived there, but not if you don't. She also included random information about fires and a potentially related case that was solved. The writing was disorganized, at times way too detailed, and ultimately led nowhere. I now realize I do not like reading true crime if it's unsolved. My interest is more in who did the crime and why they committed it. It was a slog to get through. I gave the book 2 stars. This book comes out October 4th. The only people I recommend it to are people who live in London, Ontario and/or knew the victims.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Strange and quirky. Also overlong and all focus is on London Ontario rather than the specifics listed within the title, IMHO. I considered a two star rating as tangents relative from arson fires to car style head lights rove all over the place. Organized only by dozens of cases in this particular place during this late 1960's to about a decade later period. But I went with the 3 stars because the soup to nuts confusion is exactly apt to that pre forensics proofs period during which all these murd Strange and quirky. Also overlong and all focus is on London Ontario rather than the specifics listed within the title, IMHO. I considered a two star rating as tangents relative from arson fires to car style head lights rove all over the place. Organized only by dozens of cases in this particular place during this late 1960's to about a decade later period. But I went with the 3 stars because the soup to nuts confusion is exactly apt to that pre forensics proofs period during which all these murders occurred. There are suppositions but almost no answers/ arrests or convictions. He is blood type O. That's about the only absolute fact re the Forest City Killer. Mixtures of intersecting characters in several cases was so intriguing that a 3rd star is earned. The feel between them of work realities and transport fit the period. It brought back that time period onus quite to the nifty gritty much as I remember it. Same neighborhood type complex too. But this is comparable to reading open files of 40 or 60 plus years gone. Unsatisfying all told and major evil is probably getting pension checks and home care. Photos are weird. grainy and at times seem macabre or posed at random later periods.Yet it does give you feel and placements. And almost no justice answers. He or two he's got away with it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Struble

    I had never heard of The Forest City Killer until this book. It follows a string of murders and disappearances in and around a small town in Canada. This book gives detailed information into a lot of the cases. It tries to show connections between them all, but that gets a bit muddied up by not knowing who actually committed the crimes. It also follows the notes from Detective Alsop, so it gave some insight into the investigation. She also brings up some of the DNA samples, but then mentions how I had never heard of The Forest City Killer until this book. It follows a string of murders and disappearances in and around a small town in Canada. This book gives detailed information into a lot of the cases. It tries to show connections between them all, but that gets a bit muddied up by not knowing who actually committed the crimes. It also follows the notes from Detective Alsop, so it gave some insight into the investigation. She also brings up some of the DNA samples, but then mentions how not many of them have actually been tested now that we have made so many advances today in CSI. It does mention that many samples were not properly stored to be able to test with modern technology. I felt the story line trailed off into different places, so at times it was hard to follow and get into a good groove of reading it. The author, Vanessa Brown, added in some of her personal views of locations that were brought up. It cluttered up the information in the cases, but it could be a nice touch for someone who is familiar with the area. I liked how are the end of the book in the epilogue, the author linked gave a brief description of each crime along with her own conclusions (could it be 1 killers, or a couple maybe even a group of killers). I did not like how the case/cases are still unsolved, so you are left not knowing what really happened. Also, I really didn't like how the story line jumped around between cases over the length of the book. Overall, I really appreciated that Vanessa Brown brought the story back up for all of these unsolved murders. I feel like it can be informative for people to see a lot of the disappearances and murders that happened in that time frame. It is kind of frightening to see how many people can turn up missing with DNA evidence on our around the bodies and not get caught!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Roth

    As a true crime reader, I was very surprised to learn about the Forest City murders. I appreciate the fact that the author put these unsolved murders back into the public eye. This is the first advanced reader copy that I have read that was draft-like in presentation. It required a little more focus as I was reading it. Captions for photos would be inserted in the middle of page and footnotes also in strange placements, as well as sentences ending mid-sentence, to be picked up later on, but thes As a true crime reader, I was very surprised to learn about the Forest City murders. I appreciate the fact that the author put these unsolved murders back into the public eye. This is the first advanced reader copy that I have read that was draft-like in presentation. It required a little more focus as I was reading it. Captions for photos would be inserted in the middle of page and footnotes also in strange placements, as well as sentences ending mid-sentence, to be picked up later on, but these editing issues should be overlooked. I appreciated the photos to remind me that CSI was totally different in the ‘60s. That said, I really struggled to follow the storyline. There were too many footnotes for my liking, as well as storylines that I struggled to make a connection with the FCK. There was a lot of information about a lot of murders. Were they all the work of one killer? I think not. Ms Brown is a local historian writing a book so definitely not as polished as one written by a professional investigative journalist. I believe the book could do with a great editing. I certainly appreciate all the research Ms Brown has done to get this book to print. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    I am really struggling with this review. I feel that in some parts the author did a GREAT job. Covering Jackie's murder. Then in other areas, I feel the author spent too much time on the crazy lady who framed Glenn Frye. I completely understand that the author does NOT know who the Forest Killer is/was....but I felt that there could have been more emphasis on the victims, the stuffed tissues in the throats of at least 2 victims, whether or not there was other unsolved murders around Canada with t I am really struggling with this review. I feel that in some parts the author did a GREAT job. Covering Jackie's murder. Then in other areas, I feel the author spent too much time on the crazy lady who framed Glenn Frye. I completely understand that the author does NOT know who the Forest Killer is/was....but I felt that there could have been more emphasis on the victims, the stuffed tissues in the throats of at least 2 victims, whether or not there was other unsolved murders around Canada with the stuffed tissues. Did the main detective have any hunches? I also felt that Georgina's murder and the killers confession was NOT apart of the Forest City Killer and should NOT have been included in this book. I don't feel that the killer would confess to Georgina's murder AND NOT Jackie's. Overall, I felt that the book threw a TON of information at the reader, focusing on crazy lady and Jackie English while neglecting other victims.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This is a haunting, impassioned story of a cold case and a writer's commitment to justice for the victims. As with all violent crime of the pre-DNA testing era, you get so frustrated reading about the wealth of evidence the murderer left behind and how pretty much nothing could be done. I hope this book works in the way I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK did and renews interest in a partially-forgotten cold case, leading to the conviction of the murderer. This is a haunting, impassioned story of a cold case and a writer's commitment to justice for the victims. As with all violent crime of the pre-DNA testing era, you get so frustrated reading about the wealth of evidence the murderer left behind and how pretty much nothing could be done. I hope this book works in the way I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK did and renews interest in a partially-forgotten cold case, leading to the conviction of the murderer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    I think Goodreads erased my original review - suffice it to say that this is empathetic, feminist true crime in the spirit of Michelle McNamara that raises some interesting questions about these cases in particular and the way cold cases are investigated in Ontario in general.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christina McLain

    In the 1960's, London, Ontario was a sleepy city of 160,000 people with a prestigious university and a thriving arts and cultural community. It was also, and would be until 1984, the serial killer capital of Canada. Between 1959 and 1984, 29 murders, mainly of young women and children, occurred in the city. Thirteen of those killings have been linked to a trio of men convicted of their crimes, but the remaining deaths remain, officially at least, unsolved. This book written by a native Londoner In the 1960's, London, Ontario was a sleepy city of 160,000 people with a prestigious university and a thriving arts and cultural community. It was also, and would be until 1984, the serial killer capital of Canada. Between 1959 and 1984, 29 murders, mainly of young women and children, occurred in the city. Thirteen of those killings have been linked to a trio of men convicted of their crimes, but the remaining deaths remain, officially at least, unsolved. This book written by a native Londoner provides us with a comprehensive and often unconventional account of those deaths and the demographics behind them. Why London, of all places? According to a 2015 article in the British newspsper, the Guardian, serial killings began to proliferate in North America in the mid to late 1950's with the completion of various superhighways making both mobility and a quick escape possible. In fact, the 401, Canada's most travelled highway, lay very near the city of London which is located almost halfway between Toronto and the US. Also, this was a period in which a huge number of male baby boomers came of age and, as we know, most violent crimes are committed by men between 18 and 35. Young women enjoyed more independance and sexual freedom in that era and hitchhiking was considered popular and acceptable by both sexes in those days. Interestingly London was considering to be a "test market town"-a place where commercial products could be tested-because of its "average" demographic and many test market towns have high rates of rape and murder. But I think that this city also had a fatal combination of less than stellar policing and a dark underbelly of broken, impoverished families and homeless drug-addicted people, even as far back as the 60's. This was the era of increased mobility, societal changes and the sexual revolution. Many people in London also seemed to come from strict religious backgrounds which may have fostered sexual repression and twisted impulses. Remember this was the period that included Ted Bundy and the Golden State killer, along with many others. I found the story told here to be both fascinating and chilling, but ultimately the manner in which it was told was confusing and irritating. The author injected things from her own life into the footnotes and she should have produced some kind of a chart deliniating the horrific similarities which occured in many of the killings. Her chatty attempts to be witty undermined the seriousness of the effort. The stalwart efforts of Alsop, the policeman who tried to solve these deaths for many years, and the longsuffering families of the victims, deserved more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite Giguère

    I thought this was a very interesting book. I did find it a bit confusing to read some of the time because of all the stories that were mixed up together. It did make me really sad to read about all those murders and also gave me nightmares... Especially since I live in London. I really hope that those cases will be solved some day to bring justice to the victims and their families.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Stafford

    An astonishing look at a series of murders in what feels like small-town London, Ontario, "The Forest City Killer" is a fast-paced, remarkable read that makes you rethink the idea that the world was a better, purer place in the 1960s. Author Vanessa Brown has meticulously compiled each of the dozen murders that happened in this Southwestern Ontario city, pulled out new clues that I hadn't read before, and managed to string them all together and point out links between them all, along with sugges An astonishing look at a series of murders in what feels like small-town London, Ontario, "The Forest City Killer" is a fast-paced, remarkable read that makes you rethink the idea that the world was a better, purer place in the 1960s. Author Vanessa Brown has meticulously compiled each of the dozen murders that happened in this Southwestern Ontario city, pulled out new clues that I hadn't read before, and managed to string them all together and point out links between them all, along with suggested suspects (who are still alive). I read a book a few years ago called Murder City that covered some of the same ground, but as I reviewed it at the time, I felt like it was heavy-handed, full of factual errors (having grown up in Southwestern Ontario I knew he had things wrong about different outlying towns and London itself) and was written in an academic style that made it difficult to keep the threads together. This book presents the story in a clearer narrative, with a far more compelling writing style. I loved the way Brown inserted herself into the stories, showing how closely connected and small-world-feeling Southwestern Ontario really is: she'd point out a church one person went to, and mention her grandparents attended the same church. Or a summer camp that her cousins went to. Or a corner where one of the victims went missing, and her experience of that same corner when she was a teenager. Even when I was reading the book I knew that people in my family knew some of the people mentioned in the stories. Creating these connections pulls us into the story even more, showing how closely connected this pocket of Ontario is, that no one was safe from the predator(s) lurking around the Forest City. A gorgeously written book. One can only hope this might have the same impact as Michelle McNamara's book, "I'll Be Gone in the Dark," which was instrumental in catching the Golden State Killer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Bear

    I couldn't put this book down!! I was enthralled with the individual stories. How could all these murders happen in the city I grew up in?? And how are they still unsolved?? The author paints a perfect picture of this city back in the 1960's. I found myself thinking of the streets and landmarks back then and comparing them to what they look like now. This book will keep you captivated! I couldn't put this book down!! I was enthralled with the individual stories. How could all these murders happen in the city I grew up in?? And how are they still unsolved?? The author paints a perfect picture of this city back in the 1960's. I found myself thinking of the streets and landmarks back then and comparing them to what they look like now. This book will keep you captivated!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    2.5 stars. As far as I can tell, Vanessa Brown is not a trained detective or journalist. And it shows. She veers wildly from case to case, theory to theory, then jumps back to the story of a person she last mentioned over a hundred pages ago. Her (non-chronological) narrative is so scattered that even if she did find any worthwhile evidence while researching this book, it's lost in the mire of all the minutiae. She also had a tendency towards paragraphs that were only a sentence long, as though t 2.5 stars. As far as I can tell, Vanessa Brown is not a trained detective or journalist. And it shows. She veers wildly from case to case, theory to theory, then jumps back to the story of a person she last mentioned over a hundred pages ago. Her (non-chronological) narrative is so scattered that even if she did find any worthwhile evidence while researching this book, it's lost in the mire of all the minutiae. She also had a tendency towards paragraphs that were only a sentence long, as though the sentence was some kind of punchline or "aha!" moment, but it never, ever was. It drove me nuts.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I was really excited to read this book. I had high hopes. But it was incredibly boring and cluttered with WAY too much unnecessary detail. We don’t the need the detailed backstory for every single business in the area. This book would only be interesting for true crime enthusiasts who live in London, Ont. And even then that might be a stretch.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice by Vanessa Brown is a highly recommended examination of cold cases and the likelihood that a serial killer is the culprit. Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, making it, unofficially, the serial killer capital of Canada. Young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, beginning with the 1969 murder of 15-year-old Jackie English. Homicide Detective Dennis Alsop s The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice by Vanessa Brown is a highly recommended examination of cold cases and the likelihood that a serial killer is the culprit. Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, making it, unofficially, the serial killer capital of Canada. Young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, beginning with the 1969 murder of 15-year-old Jackie English. Homicide Detective Dennis Alsop spent the next 40 years, until his death, hunting for her killer - and the killer of the other victims. Author Vanessa Brown was allowed to look through Alsop's case files, revealing previously undisclosed evidence and statements from witnesses. Alsop believed that there were seven homicides that were linked. The questions remain though. Was it one killer or two? And could a DNA test reveal the identity of the killer? Brown believes that there were two killers. The stories of the victims are heartbreaking, especially in terms of the time in history that they occurred. Parents weren't concerned about stranger danger or advising their children to be careful and watch their surroundings. I know this simply because I was a child at this time and actually had an abduction scare. Brown does a good job describing the town, the setting, and placing herself personally in the cases while researching them because she knows the area and the stories swirling around the community about the murders. While there is no conclusive answer as to the identity of the killer(s), Brown brings many facts to light about the investigations, suspects, and the cases. In some instances, some of the information is unnecessary or unfocused, but that could be because I had an ARC. Brown knows a lot about the cases and she does include a lot of information and the book includes copious footnotes. There are also many photos, which help to focus on the area and what Brown is pointing out. Now I'll be following any news on the Forest City killer cold cases to see if the killer(s) is ever identified. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of ECW Press. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/1...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read this because I got into My Favorite Murder and one of them had mentioned reading it, and I went to Western so I’m familiar with the London area, it’s nice to recognize places when I’m reading. TrueCrime is a genre that I have not read much at all so I am unprepared for everything in here. Is the ending of a book supposed to leave me with sadness and frustration? I knew it was an unsolved case going into it and there wouldn’t be some neat conclusion but it was frustrating seeing things laid I read this because I got into My Favorite Murder and one of them had mentioned reading it, and I went to Western so I’m familiar with the London area, it’s nice to recognize places when I’m reading. TrueCrime is a genre that I have not read much at all so I am unprepared for everything in here. Is the ending of a book supposed to leave me with sadness and frustration? I knew it was an unsolved case going into it and there wouldn’t be some neat conclusion but it was frustrating seeing things laid out, but never having enough information to actually make any definitive claims. I had heard briefly of London being a serial killer capital, although I certainly didn’t know how much the news brought it up at the time. I guess it’s easy to gloss things over in your memory. I found myself wanting more from the text than Vanessa Brown could provide, although maybe I’m looking for more psychological analysis: there were quite a few people who inserted themselves into the investigation, straight up lied, or otherwise sought the attention from police in a way I can’t fathom (and apparently, neither could Brown), but thats not a failure of the book (the author can’t tell you what’s going on in their heads). Still, bizarre. At first I thought she was bringing a bunch of unrelated stories in but then they all somehow managed to mesh together. I enjoyed it, even if it was convoluted and frustrating.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shara Greensides

    The story was very interesting to me, especially because I live in the city this took place in. I did find it a little hard to follow at times with there being so many names introduced at once. The organization of it was a little confusing as well since the links between people would sometimes be mentioned before that person was introduced. I also feel like a lot of the author's personal details that were added in were unnecessary. The footnotes were also distracting. I would rather the informat The story was very interesting to me, especially because I live in the city this took place in. I did find it a little hard to follow at times with there being so many names introduced at once. The organization of it was a little confusing as well since the links between people would sometimes be mentioned before that person was introduced. I also feel like a lot of the author's personal details that were added in were unnecessary. The footnotes were also distracting. I would rather the information be added into the text of the story. It was jarring to constantly stop reading mid paragraph to read the footnote, then try to find where I left off. That being said, the story itself was engaging and worth reading. The author obviously really did her research and I commend her for the amount of work it must have taken. Overall, I would still recommend this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    The Forest City Killer details a set of events so chilling and mysterious that I found myself sitting up at night, afraid to go to sleep. Vanessa Brown writes with compassion for the victims and their families while also maintaining a ruthless hunt for truth and fact (difficult though it must have been considering some of the police work in the cases). While non-Londoners with a taste for true crime will undoubtably appreciate TFCK, it truly hits home for us who live in the Forest City.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michel

    The fairest City Killer takes on a chilling journey into London’s recent past as a seedy hunting ground for the Forest City Killer. The events in the book are grotesque and captivating, and Brown does her best to honour the stories for the families who survived them. I came away with a better understanding of the city and the resilient people who lived here in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I hadn't heard much about this case until recently so I was interested in reading the book, some may say it is similar to the Golden State Killer. While it was an interesting read, there was a few downfalls, there was too many footnotes and couldn't interview many of the witnesses. Overall though still a decent book. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I hadn't heard much about this case until recently so I was interested in reading the book, some may say it is similar to the Golden State Killer. While it was an interesting read, there was a few downfalls, there was too many footnotes and couldn't interview many of the witnesses. Overall though still a decent book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Fryzuk

    It’s very well researched but at times a bit too descriptive. And, once it’s clear the case remains unsolved and that there is little police activity to bring it to rest, I felt a bit meh about it all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Millar

    I quite liked this book. It's well written and feels as though Vanessa and I are just having a conversation about it all. I cant wait to read another one of her books I quite liked this book. It's well written and feels as though Vanessa and I are just having a conversation about it all. I cant wait to read another one of her books

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