Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lost Girls” as Want to Read:
Lost Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lost Girls

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  590 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Chelsea King was a popular high school senior, an outstanding achiever determined to make a difference. Amber Dubois loved books and poured her heart into the animals she cared for. Treasured by their families and friends, both girls disappeared in San Diego County, just eight miles and one year apart. The community's desperate search led authorities to John Albert Gardner ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Pinnacle (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lost Girls, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lost Girls

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jessica Jackson
Jul 06, 2012 Jessica Jackson rated it did not like it
The parents of both families didn't give the author permission to write this book, although not illegal it is immoral. This author has left this community in shock once again. I believe everyone should have the right to rest in peace, but it seems every time we start to breathe again something new reminds us all of this. I lived this. I knew Chelsea, my brother sat next to her empty chair while she was gone. This author should donate the proceeds to a charity if she was really trying to help the ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it
Being that these crimes happened only a few years back and in my current backyard, and knowing that Caitlin Rother writes well researched and written books, I anticipated reading Lost Girls. The book left a sad, bitter and frustrated taste in my mouth.

Author Caitlin Rother supplied stellar investigative writing. She wrote with so much description that she brought victims Amber and Chelsea to life on the pages. They came across much more vividly than their killer, which is a wonderful change to m
Aug 17, 2012 Marcia rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-library
While reading this book I felt as though I was reading an episode of 48 hours. Given the title of the book, "Lost Girls" I expected the book to be more about the girls not the person who ended their lives. In my opinion this book did a disservice to the lives of Amber and Chelsea by focusing on John's life. I may have felt different about the book if they were able to explain why he did those horrible things to those girls, but it didn't. Oh it showed how his mom was an enabler and in denial abo ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Nancy rated it did not like it
The title is deceptive. This is not about the "lost girls" Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. It's more of an apologist tale of the sadistic bastard who killed them. The author relies on the memories of people in John Gardner's life for her "facts". Family members and friends are a dysfunctional, drug addicted, abusive, drunken bunch who denied Gardner could have done something so awful. He did. This book seems to blame an oh-so-mean parole officer (who insisted Gardner stick to some of his parole c ...more
Jul 30, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Written in 2012, this book studies the development of sexual predator John Gardner, his family, the victims and their families. Having participated in the search for Chelsea King I had a special interest in this story. Facts of the case were well presented and much more coherent than the sound bites of the mainstream media.

Rother has been criticized for being too sympathetic to the killer. The truth, I believe, is that there is usually plenty of blame to
The lost girls were Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, they were good girls and they disappeared one year apart. Both were abducted by John Albert Gardner, who raped and killed them. Like many such predators, he had a normal sex-life with his girlfriend, even fathering twins with a former girlfriend. He also had violent urges that lead him to seek out vulnerable women.

The victim’s family did not cooperate with this book, all information about them is from public records and interviews with people (f
Jul 06, 2012 James rated it really liked it
This book is very well researched and written. The content of the book is deeply disturbing. I lived in the San Diego area for many years.

The book read fast. It held my interest. I found it perturbing that parents permit teenage girls to walk a hiking trail alone. The portraits of the murderer and his mother are very detailed. I wondered as I read the book why Gardner's mother was not held criminally or civilly responsible.

Even though the book is disturbing, it is well worth your time to read
Jul 26, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
Caitlin Rother is the queen of true crime. The books that she writes are superbly well researched, thought-provokingly written, engaging and told in a way that puts her as a neutral person – telling the story of the victims and those who played a role in the most heinous of crimes.

In Lost Girls, Ms. Rother tells the story of a highly disturbed man and the shocking crimes that he committed on two young and beautiful girls – young women who had their entire lives before them. Though the tragedy is
Doris Jean
May 14, 2014 Doris Jean rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: literary teachers for practice in editing.
Shelves: true-crime, children
I may avoid this author in the future – unless there is an editor. I do like true crime, but this book was like a shuffled deck of cards. At the beginning of the story parts of an issue were given, then more was added at the end of the book. There was too much skipping around and disconnectedness. It made the book jarring and confusing.

For example, page 233, Chelsea's body is found. Page 236 the family is told that her body was found. Page 251, six cops are pallbearers and the funeral is describ
Joalby Phoenix
Jul 14, 2012 Joalby Phoenix rated it it was amazing
Just completed this book after getting my copy at one of Caitlin's booksignings last week.
With the press and coverage and attacks in the media, I was interested in reading the book and making the decision for myself and I am very glad that I did.
The book was well researched even under the circumstances that legal roadblocks and withholding of information made it only that much more difficult and time consuming to research documents and information that was never made public as no trial existed
Jul 24, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Two innocent teenage girls ... one psychotic sexual predator ... two heinous, senseless murders that took the girls' lives one year apart and rocked the San Diego suburb communities of Poway and Escondido ...

Seventeen year old Chelsea King was a beautiful, popular, intelligent senior at Poway High School, who had a promising future ahead of her. On February 25, 2010, Chelsea went jogging on the trails of Rancho Bernardo Community Park (Lake Hodges) after school let out. When she failed to come h
Nadia Antonio
Jan 22, 2013 Nadia Antonio rated it really liked it
Caitlin Rothers Lost Girls describes Chelsea King a popular high school senior, an outstanding achiever and was determined to make a difference, fourteen year old Amber Dubious loved books and poured her heart out into animals she cared for, treasured by their family and friends both girls went missing in San Diego County just eight miles and one year apart. This book I thought was very difficult to read through and just depressing.
The life lesson behind this book is to always trust your insti
Carrie Ardoin
Jul 18, 2012 Carrie Ardoin rated it liked it
Shelves: posted-on-blog, tour

I can't say I exactly enjoyed reading this book, because of its' very content, but I definitely appreciate the exhaustive research and sheer amount of work the author put into telling all sides of the story.

Perhaps the first 180 pages of the book were all background on John Gardner, even going as far back as the psychological history of his grandparents. Some might feel that the author spent so much time on Gardner's history to try to find some excuse for his crimes, but I have to disag
♥ Marlene♥
As many of my friends know I read a lot of true crime. So far i have liked all this authors's book except for one. This book was thought provoking and another good read.

The difference with the other true crime's I read is that this story was told by the killer and his family. The victims parents dis not want to cooperate which is their right.

Sometimes I thought the author was finding excuses for the murderer but later on I realized she was just telling the facts.

While checking my kindle because
Nov 18, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
The book is titled Lost Girls but is mostly about the man who murdered them. Amber Dubois was kidnapped while walking to school, and Chelsea King was snatched while jogging on a trail. Their murders took place in the San Diego area. The book devoted great detail to the murderer, John Albert Gardner, whose mother was a psychiatric nurse yet an enabler to her very disturbed son. The book also goes into the failures of the parole system in CA, and the difficulty of getting people good mental health ...more
Sherry Ward
Dec 18, 2012 Sherry Ward rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. The author did a great job of giving the reader an inside look at Gardner. He kidnapped two young girls sexually assaulted them and murdered them. I am always curious about the person and their family to try to understand how someone can develop into a killer this story has been featured on dateline and this book shows incredible sensitivity to all involved but gives us clues of how Gardner became a killer
Nov 12, 2013 Mel rated it it was amazing
This book was excellently researched, written and presented. Rother provides a full and detailed history of all of the many physical, emotional and psychological factors that led up to the eventual brutal deaths of these two girls. Highly recommended for those who have a curiousity into finding out exactly how it is possible for these monsters to walk among us, and in what ways the "system" is there to support (or fail) them and us.
Jan 26, 2015 Dawn rated it liked it
This was an intense read for me. The author was respectful of both the victims and their families and with the dark side of mental illness. She really tells the story from an objective point of view and it's fascinating to read! If you're a fan of true crime stories, this one is a recent one that touches on many sides of the problems with mental illness and the problems with both the healthcare industry as well as law enforcement and the justice system.
Jul 29, 2012 Alfredo rated it really liked it
I was brought to this book due to the controversy stirred around it by the families of the victims and I have to say I don't know what the problem is.

The author handles the subject matter with professionalism and sensitivity.

The fact that she chose to focus on the life of the killer as a way to throw light on the pathology of serial killers and the inadequacy of the medical-legal system in California, should not be confused with sympathy or some kind of vindication of his crimes.

Dana ****Reads Alot****
What a disturbing book. Very well written. I felt so sad for everyone involved when i was done reading. And angry that this could of been prevented if the system worked correctly, john would of been behind bars or in a pyschiatric hospital where he needed to be. The system failed John when he asked for help so many times.
Jan 11, 2015 Kim rated it liked it
Just like most of the reviews I read on here I agree.... It's hard to rate a true crime book. The reason I would give it 4 stars is because I liked the way Rother told the story of the criminal's life from interviews with his family and friends. I feel so bad for the families of his victims and hope that some good can come from the retelling of this tragic story.
Just started reading this but so far is very good. As with all true crime you pretty much know the ending.
Aug 11, 2016 Barron rated it really liked it
With fairness and respect for all parties involved, Lost Girls digs deep to the roots of evil within the mind of a serial killer. Rother has done her homework. With meticulous care she examines every factor that contributed to the making of a monster. The violent urges seething in his brain seemingly from birth; his mother's inadequacy to provide a supportive environment for her troubled son; the repeated failures of mental health services to normalize his behavior; a rigid, rulebound parolee an ...more
Lynda Kelly
Dec 04, 2013 Lynda Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
This was a very well written and researched true murder book and I'd certainly read more by this author.
I've never felt the least sympathy for a killer before but in John Gardner's case I think he was treated very unfairly and then wasn't given the help he asked and asked for, as did his mother, too, as he knew he was liable to hurt somebody. I think the reason he was listed as a sex offender was wrong, too. It read to me like a lot of "he said, she said" and the neighbour girl was after him and
Maureen Timerman
Jun 30, 2012 Maureen Timerman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Page turning sad, sad story. The story of dysfunctional families, drug abuse, bipolar, incest, and murder. We find families failing one another, hospitals and Government Agencies not helping or doing their jobs. Laws that are in place and not enforced, people either not doing their jobs, or over worked to the point they are unable to comply.
John Albert Garner, was born with problems, his Mom became a psychiatric nurse in order to support and help her son. Throughout the book you see numerous tim
May 29, 2014 Carrie rated it liked it
Not the best true crime book I have ever read, but certainly not the worst. The author herself admits that it may have not been written as the case was settled and did not go to a trial, which is usually needed to make a book like this interesting. But she also noted that it really needed to be written, so we could see a side of a serial rapist/killer that would make us see how they got to be what they are, and how the system could have helped out at many points along the way. No excuses were ma ...more
Lauren O'Rourke
Rother was respectful.

Rother was respectful.

John Gardner Jr. puts fear in my heart. To know that there are more out there is terrifying. Caitlin Rother did a good job respecting the privacy of the victims families. Although Gardner's mother is not believable. Book is suspect-sided. Victims families did not participate in book so truths are unknown
Nov 01, 2016 Kara rated it it was ok
Something about this book seemed 'off' or sort of exploitive. On page 355 I officially decided I didn't like the way the book was written with 'I'd been hoping to catch a glimpse of a triumvirates of evil that day, including Charles Manson and Phillip Garrido.' Right. Because the idea of laying eyes on disgusting criminals is totally like spotting your favorite celebrity.
Jan 16, 2016 LORI CASWELL rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
The desperate search for two lost innocents, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, led authorities to a brutal predator hiding in plain sight: John Albert Gardner, a convicted sex offender who could have been returned to prison several times over. Pulitzer-nominated writer Caitlin Rother delivers an incisive, heartbreaking true-life thriller about a case that galvanized its community, first by grief and goodwill, then by anger and injustice, as it came to grips with a flawed system that failed … and ad ...more
LOST GIRLS is the tragic story of a community frightened and families lives destroyed. Two girls went missing from Escondido, California. It turned out there was a sexual predator in the neighborhood's midst the entire time. I picked this book up expecting it to be the stories of the girls and their families, and while that certainly does have a part to play, this book is mostly about the man who murdered them, John Gardener, and what happened to make him into a man who murdered two teenage girl ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice
  • Death Trap
  • Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields
  • Notes on a Killing: Love, Lies, and Murder in a Small New Hampshire Town
  • Tacoma Confidential: A True Story of Murder, Suicide, and a Police Chief's Secret Life
  • Unanswered Cries: A True Story Of Friends, Neighbors, And Murder In A Small Town
  • The Confessions of an American Black Widow: A True Story of Greed, Lust and a Murderous Wife
  • Sleep My Darlings: The true story of a mother who killed her children in cold blood
  • Escaping the Arroyo
  • The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes (5 Year Anniversary)
  • Delivered from Evil: True Stories of Ordinary People Who Faced Monstrous Mass Killers and Survived
  • Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children
  • Evil Eyes
  • One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley
  • Never Enough
  • Murder in the Synagogue
  • Suffer The Little Children
New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother has written or co-authored 11 books, ranging from narrative non-fiction crime to mystery to memoir. Her titles include LOVE GONE WRONG, DEAD RECKONING, THEN NO ONE CAN HAVE HER, I'LL TAKE CARE OF HER, NAKED ADDICTION, POISONED LOVE, BODY PARTS, TWISTED TRIANGLE, LOST GIRLS, WHERE HOPE BEGINS and MY LIFE, DELETED. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Rother wor ...more
More about Caitlin Rother...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »