The Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber

cover book skeleton crewThe Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber gives you insight in all the armchair sleuthing and obstacles they face(d) trying to help others.

These crews have one thing in common with the cops: the desire the serve and help others especially those who cannot speak anymore for themselves.

Reading the book makes you aware how far apart these groups are despite the fact that they do have a common goal: solving a victim’s crime and giving them back their identity.

Were police is organized, managed, and funded, skeleton crew members are not. Police can get together with any other town department, organize fundraisers, or take part in events that raise awareness for victims. Skeleton crew members do not for obvious reasons. They miss out on opportunities to connect with people and their networks that might be able to lend a helping/financing hand.

Halber show us the struggles from the beginning when people carefully tried to find out  whether they could trust each other with their project. She outlines how incredibly difficult it can be to connect with local authorities and to gain an ounce of respect.

We meet the early crew members and their successors. We meet the victims and their families. We learn how hard their lives have been not knowing what happened to their loved one. And, we discover how in this great country certain things are not well-organized.

Not every police department has all their missing and unidentified victims’ profiles uploaded in NamUs. Not every police department sees the value of having extra eyes and hands as all these crew members are excellent researchers, data collectors, and data organizers. Can you imagine what they could do for a national system?

Some words of critique: as moving as the stories are Halber’s book is difficult to read.

  • The set-up of the stories are not well streamlined causing you to flip back and forth to find the beginning again.
  • I missed a complete listing of all the victims, where they were found with possible identities, and who we credit for finding those identities.
  • A listing of all the police departments where the author interviewed people would be of interest to me.
  • An overview of all the web sleuthing teams with their website links is missing. This could serve victim family members who wish to contact or talk to some members of the many skeleton crews.

Overall, Halber’s book is a must-read if you are interested in missing person cases and the efforts that have to be made to give an unidentified person their name back.

I received a free review copy of this book through the author in exchange for an honest review.