In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation
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In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  200 ratings  ·  34 reviews
This riveting inside story of the intense search for the Salt Lake City teenager reveals never-before-told details of the largest investigation in Utah state history. The firsthand account of Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle and one-time suspect, reveals the details of the flawed police investigation, the media's manipulation of the family, and the eyewitness account of nine-y...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Chicago Review Press (first published April 18th 2005)
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When Elizabeth's parents first came out with their book "Bringing Elizabeth Home," I kind of wanted to read it, and kind of was repulsed by the idea of reading it, because it seemed like an intrusion of privacy. But this past year, I requested their book as well as this one (by Elizabeth's uncle) from the library. I read the parents' book earlier this summer, but wasn't able to get this one till now. I would say this book was the more interesting of the two -- it gives detailed information about...more
Janet Lynch
When I noticed the author was Tom Smart, I thought he was Elizabeth’s father, and assumed that this book would be a maudlin as-told-to account of a large LDS family sticking and praying together. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Tom is actually Elizabeth’s uncle and a seasoned photojournalist; his co-writer is his colleague on a Salt Lake City newspaper. This true story is better than any crime novel I’ve ever read My instincts told me to include it in my study of cults, and it turns out t...more
Yet another reason to despise Bill O'Reilly...and "Fix" News. Of course, the PD didn't come off that much better, although some of them tried.

What a strange story, one of those made-for-Nancy-Grace ones with the blond-in-danger. And she PLAYED THE HARP over and over on the news...sort of like Jon Benet performing in her little beauty-queen getup. UGH.

Better ending than Jon Benet, for sure. Hopefully people learn from these things, like "oh we had an eyewitness, even though she is only 9 years ol...more
I love the Smart family. What amazing, inspirational people.

This book was written by Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle, who is also a veteran photojournalist. If I didn't already have massive respect for the Smarts, this wonderfully written book would have done it.

I especially appreciated this very honest observation from Tom: "We knew the massive amount of media attention the Elizabeth Smart case had generated was in part because the Smarts were an affluent, well-connected Caucasian family. However,...more
I thought the book was well written thought repetitive and lengthy. I was fascinated by the interface between the Police, the FBI, Politicians, TV Celebrities (America's Most Wanted) and the Smart Family.

With hindsight of the Elizabeth Smart abduction, law enforcement decision makers look quite foolish. At the time, however, I suspect most were doing what they felt was most likely to produce results. The authors have done a good job of sharing what happened and thereby exposing some of the short...more
This book fills in the information about the investigation into Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping that her book, My Story, doesn't describe. Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle, tells the story well from his first-person point of view. The only flaw in the book is Smart's tendency to go on too long, especially in the first third of the book, about his own experiences. He's trying to justify acting a little crazy (due to sleep deprivation, the desire to find out what happened to Elizabeth, and the whipsawing...more
In reading a book like this, one must remember that this story is a first person memoir with all the angst, pitfalls and subjectivism that such a memoir contains. That being said, Tom Smart is a frank and likable narrator - a no-nonsense guy who fought for home, family and decency. He has let the reader into the inner sanctum of law enforcement, media and family with an honesty about "the good, the bad and the ugly". So many individuals were invested and committed to this case, one should be cau...more
Jul 21, 2009 Jane rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
This book was written by a newspaper reporter and Elizabeth Smart's uncle who is a professional newspaper photographer. As a result the book doesn't read like a true crime novel but like a newspaper account that is trying to make sure all relevant actions and conversations are correctly and fully documented. The authors take special care to document all contact with the Salt Lake City Police Department and the FBI and in the end show that the professional law enforcement agency were very lacking...more
4 stars for the interesting background on Mitchell and Barzee. No other book has had that much information.

3 stars for the author promoting his significance in the whole thing and his obvious belittling the LDS faith.

Read this with Elizabeth's book and her parent's book to get a fuller story of what happened.
Cynthia Sillitoe
I read this when it first came out and reread it after Elizabeth's book came out. There are a lot of conflicting details. I know some would assume Elizabeth's version is right, but Tom Smart and Lee Benson are good journalists. I think they relied on what Elizabeth had told relatives about her ordeal and maybe some of that was inaccurate, but there are other things. One of the biggest is that when found, Elizabeth told the police her name was Augustine. That isn't in Elizabeth's book, but everyo...more
Monica Johnson
3 1/2 stars. Evidently I am now enthralled with the Elizabeth Smart Case. I thought this book was wonderfully researched and extremely insightful. That family knows how to love. They were there for one another, they may have not always agreed, but they were there. What a wonderful lesson. As far as the investigation, mistakes were made. Really, really big mistakes, thank heavens she was found, miracles happen every day.
Read this before I read Elizabeth's story and was fascinated by the details of the investigation and the persistence with which her family and extended family dealt with every setback.
I decided to read this book because it was cheap on the Kindle, I suppose in anticipation of Elizabeth Smart's own book about her ordeal. It is by her uncle, who was considered a person of interest in Elizabeth's kidnapping. He didn't tell Elizabeth's story, because he said that was her story to tell. But he did tell about some background in the case, and the investigation that followed. He expressed the family's frustration at the way many of the aspects of the case were handled, as well as the...more
Louise Hartvigsen
I read this while waiting to get the new Elizabeth Smart book from the Library. Written by her uncle, it is a thorough telling of what happened when Elizabeth was kidnapped, by her family, the police, the media. I followed the story closely as it unfolded (I distinctly remember the day she was kidnapped) and knew most of what was in the book, but I thought it was presented in a compelling way. Tom Smart was very intense during the months Elizabeth was missing and there were many strains on the f...more
It was interesting to see the insider, day-to-day perspective of this public case. It's important to keep in mind that this is only meant to tell one side of this many-sided story. I also strongly recommend that anyone reading the book not stop before they read the epilogue. There are a few things that deserve the clarification that took place after the kidnapping was all over. At least some of them are addressed in the epilogue and they help put day-to-day perspective presented in the body into...more
Was expecting more ...

I believe that this book was more of a tease than anything else. The book primarily focuses on the family's search for Elizabeth and all of the challenges and heartbreaks they encountered throughout the search. Granted, the story is humbling and terrifying. A missing child is every parent's worst nightmare; however, when I bought the book, I hoping to receive more insight into Elizabeth's experience and how she was able to keep hope alive and survive. No insight here.

The Smart Family is a powerful force. It was disturbing to read how the Salt Lake Police Dept screwed up the case and how the FBI pulled their best guy off the case because of friction between the family and the police. Tom Smart is quite an intense person. I had wanted to read this as a different perspective on the book written by Elizabeth Smart, her book tells one side (the captive) of the story. Tom Smart tells the other side (the searchers) of the story.
This book made me so emotional. I remember following the case and I am just so happy Elizabeth was found and brought home to the family who never gave up. I can't believe the police made their search so difficult. Tom Smart's book talked about that a lot and some of the roadblocks they faced because of the PD were unbelievable. I liked that it wasn't salacious either. It gave the family the privacy they needed without ignoring important details.
Cheryl Killingsworth
Worth reading because it is so informative about what NOT to do and who NOT to trust or rely on in such a horrible situation. I believe Mr. Tom Smart wrote this because of the weight of the undocumented ordeal the family went through but it is a thorough diary of events that I can't help but believe would be a balm for Elizabeth to heal. Finally, hmmm... Prayer, family, look under ever rock and pebble, seek expert help beyond the police!
So I read this and the other novel written by her dad titled, "Bringing Elizabeth Home." This one was more detailed when it came to the actual time of events occurring. I liked it for that reason, but I felt like Uncle Tom actually wrote this novel to portray his part in her return and to point out where the cops failed to do things right.
Well written. Easy read; considering we know the ending. I finished this book yesterday. Today was the anniversary of the day this amazing girl was taken from her home. She has overcome so much. What a wonderful girl from what we can see. I hope she finds everything in her life she needs. Now would be a good time to read this book.
This was a very interesting book--I couldn't put it down! I loved all of the twists and turns that were included in detail in this book. It's intriguing to read this book right now as the Brian David Mitchell is going on. What a blessing to have Elizabeth home, safe and sound. She is really an amazing woman and has overcome so much.
This book was a very good book. I went through so many different emotions reading it, fear, anger, love, happiness and inspiration. I was brought to tears many times. It is a wonderful example of family and community support and love. With a very wonderful ending. It is definitely a must read.
Marilyn Meng
Thank you for clearing things up for me I live in Utah and I am not surprised by the help you recieved and also the lack of help from officials. Every one is more interested in covering thier but it seems than just to get the job done. Loved the book
It was hard to put this book down. I appreciated finding out about the perpetrators, the extended family, etc. in more detail. I read Elizabeth Smart's My Story afterwards. It was a little overwhelming but be sure to finish it if you start reading it.
Lesley Webster
This was the second book I read on this case, (the first one being written by Tom Smart's brother.) This book was compelling as it is written by Elizabeth's father. To see the events from the parent's point of view was absolutely fascinating.
Laura Evenson
This was such a good book. The details, the story, the way it was written was great. I enjoyed every word on every page. What a fabulous family and thank God for the outcome. I highly recommend this book.
Elizabeth's uncle tells the terrible story of the nine-month ordeal the Smart family endured abter Elizabeth's kidnapping in 2002--and the joy they felt when she was miraculously returned to them.
A very interesting read, especially if you followed the case in the news. I like that it was written by family and not an outside author. A fascinating case in and of itself.
Very interesting perspective from Elizabeth's family. I can't believe how close they were at different times to discovering her. It was hard to put this one down!
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“We knew the massive amount of media attention the Elizabeth Smart case had generated was in part because the Smarts were an affluent, well-connected Caucasian family. However, kidnapping crosses all boundaries and all children deserve the same resources.” 3 likes
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