On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyons, age 10 and 12, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and mystery endured. Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware.
As a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, Mark Bowden covered the frantic first weeks of the story. InThe Last Stone, he returns to write its ending. Over months of intense questioning and extensive investigation of Welch’s sprawling, sinister Appalachian clan, five skilled detectives learned to sift truth from determined lies. How do you get a compulsive liar with every reason in the world to lie to tell the truth?The Last Stone recounts a masterpiece of criminal interrogation, and delivers a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.
Praise forThe Last Stone:
“With its blistering descriptions of an American special-forces operation gone wrong, Mark Bowden's 1999 nonfiction book Black Hawk Down made for excellent action-movie fare. The story told in his latest work, the deeply unsettlingThe Last Stone, unfolds more slowly but is no less potent. Bowden displays his tenacity as a reporter in his meticulous documentation of the case.”—Alejandro de la Garza,Time
“The Last Stone is a rigorous documenting of the 40-year journey taken by Montgomery County detectives and the cold-case team that interrogated Lloyd Welch. It's a riveting, serpentine story about the dogged pursuit of the truth, regardless of the outcome or the cost. And it's a useful reminder that in an age of science, forensics, and video and data surveillance, the ability of one human being to coax the truth from another remains the cornerstone of a successful investigation.”—NPR
“InThe Last Stone, Bowden focuses on 21 months of questioning by a revolving cast of detectives, telling a stirring, suspenseful, thoughtful story that, miraculously, neither oversimplifies the details nor gets lost in the thicket of a four-decade case file. This is a cat-and-mouse tale, told beautifully. But like all great true crime,The Last Stone finds its power not by leaning into clichÃ© but by resisting it — pushing for something more realistic, more evocative of a deeper truth. In this case, Bowden shows how even the most exquisitely pulled-off interrogations are a messy business, in which exhaustive strategizing is followed by game-time gut decisions and endless second-guessing and soul-searching.”—Robert Kolker,The New York Times
“Bowden delivers a narrative nonfiction masterpiece in this account of fiercely dedicated police detectives working to close a cold case.. This is an intelligent page-turner likely to appeal even to readers who normally avoid true crime.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Riveting…A keen synthesis of an intricate, decadeslong investigation, a stomach-churning unsolved crime, and a solid grasp of time, place, and character results in what is sure to be another bestseller for Bowden.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Mark Bowden:
“A Woodward that outdoes even Woodward.”—Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker
“Amazing . . . One of the most intense, visceral reading experiences imaginable. . . . The individual stories are woven together in such a compelling and expert fashion, the narrative flows so seamlessly, that it’s hard to imagine that this is not fiction.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer on Black Hawk Down
“The reader can visualize the action, smell the dust and sweat and the reek of explosives, and even enter into the exultation, fear, rage, pain, confusion, and exhaustion of the combatants. . . . Because he was able to interview survivors on both sides relatively soon after the action, Bowden’s story has a vitality and freshness usually lacking in accounts of combat.”—The New York Review of Books on Black Hawk Down
“A compelling, almost Shakespearean tale.”—Los Angeles Times on Killing Pablo
“Bowden has emerged as one of our best writers of muscular nonfiction.”—Edward P. Smith, Denver Post
“Mark Bowden is the reigning champion of narrative non-fiction.”—Alex Massie, Scotland on Sunday (UK)
“Heart-stopping, and heart-breaking.”—New York Times Book Review on Guests of the Ayatollah
"Bowden is consistently curious about the anonymous, often invisible operators who power modern warfare–drone operators, intelligence agents, special forces teams . . . Bowden tells a good story.”—Michael Schulson, Salon onThe Three Battles of Wanat
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