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The Grim Sleeper

The Lost Women of South Central

List Price: $26.00

June 13, 2017 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 325 Pages | ISBN 9781619027244
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Christine Pelisek — petite, blonde, Canadian — seems the least likely reporter to have broken the story on the longest running serial killer west of the Mississippi. But in 2008 she did just that with her cover story for LA Weekly, shedding light on a suspected killer of women in South Central Los Angeles who had been active since the 1980s. Dubbing him “The Grim Sleeper” for his possible long break between murders, Christine was the only one who put the pieces together after the L.A. coroner reluctantly handed her a list of thirty-eight possibly linked homicides in 2006.

Alleged serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. lived in South Central Los Angeles in the same neighborhood where his victims were found. He was a husband, a father, and neighborhood fixture. The victims were all women; some were prostitutes or drug addicts discarded like trash during a time the city was overrun with crime, drugs, and racial strife. Franklin is currently charged with ten murders, but investigators think he is responsible for at least twenty more.

The Grim Sleeper captures a singular case but also tells a bigger story: about urban homicide investigations in areas beset by poverty and gang violence; about how a serial killer could continue his macabre work for so long in part due to society’s lack of concern for his victims; and about the power and tenacity of those who refused to let the case go cold.

CHRISTINE PELISEK is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been covering crime for almost fifteen years. She got her big break at LA Weekly and has since covered national stories for The Daily Beast, 20/20, and is now the crime reporter for People. She’s been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Columbia Journalism Review, Ottawa Sun and has been interviewed as a crime expert by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Headline News and the Nancy Grace Show. She lives in Los Angeles.


“This upsetting account of a Los Angeles serial killer, written with passion by Christine Pelisek, an investigative crime reporter who spent 10 years working the case, blurts out a hard truth that no one wants to acknowledge . . . [She] tries to restore dignity to some of the victims by drawing sympathetic and carefully detailed life histories for each and every one of them.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Pelisek takes readers through the investigation step-by-step, and she also delves into the details of the women’s lives. The author paints each victim clearly, and she palpably captures the pain of the families left behind . . . True-crime fans will greatly appreciate Pelisek’s detail and determination.”Kirkus

“Through this fascinating read, Pelisek delves deeply into the connections between the war on drugs, the misguided search for The Southside Slayer, the Los Angeles Police Department’s indifference, and the cultural disregard for sex workers . . . An engrossing read for those invested in true crime, but also a cautionary tale for law enforcement.” —Bitch Media

“Painfully relevant . . . The heart of this book—which is indeed grim, but also necessary—is in its subtitle, ‘The Lost Women of South Central’ . . . At its best, The Grim Sleeper is an informal ethnography that describes how African American families came to Los Angeles from the South and Midwest, what they found there, what they didn’t. It is a group portrait of families clawing their way into the middle class, only to often slip back into poverty, drugs and alcohol. Pelisek is masterful in teasing out the stories of Franklin’s victims. For the first time, you will know their names, and their names will stay with you.” —Los Angeles Times

“[A] gripping reconstruction of the lives of some of the many impoverished victims of the recently convicted serial slayer.” —New York Magazine 

“With insights into race and crime, universal grief and ultimate justice, The Grim Sleeper succeeds in being both disturbing and satisfying. The book’s main focus is neither the murderer nor Pelisek’s involvement. It’s the victims.” —The Toronto Star

“A powerful piece of true crime reporting with an added layer of humanity and personality that I find is missing from some of the more popular books in the genre. Pelisek humanizes not only the devious serial killer, Lonnie Franklin, but each of his victims while framing it with her own experiences covering the winding saga. Human, touching, gripping, and hard to put down.” —Alex Segura

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