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A Cold Case

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  310 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
From a prize-winning author and, in Elmore Leonard's words, "a knockout writer," comes a masterfully written and gripping tale of a determined investigator who reopens an unresolved case of double homicide in New York nearly thirty years after the brutal event. Philip Gourevitch vividly evokes the almost vanished gangland of New York in the sixties, and carries us deep int ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 10th 2002 by Picador (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 574)
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Sean Owen
Feb 27, 2016 Sean Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Cold Case" started as an article in the New Yorker and maybe there isn't really enough there to justify a book (as short as this one is). Nonetheless Gourevitch manages to deliver a multifaceted and interesting story. The book shows us that solving a crime is about luck, hunches, looking over the tedious paper trail and working people. The really interesting part of this book isn't so much the actual crime or the investigation years after the fact but the detective investigating it. Through thi ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As slight as the book is, I wasn't at all surprised to find out it started as a couple of New Yorker articles. What did surprise me is that Gourevitch doesn't appear to have attempted to pad it into something less meaningful. It's a pretty simple story about a NYC cop who got to thinking about an old case, and decided to work on it. And with considerable old-fashioned policing (that is, asking lots of questions of folks) the cops managed to catch a killer who had avoided them for more than twent ...more
Mar 12, 2016 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can tell this started out as an article and then morphed into a book. Frank Koehler is an interesting man. He described himself as one part priest and one part hoodlum. Since he never went to trail, he blames the investigator by saying "he went to the priest...The hoodlum would've never went for it." For something that I picked up for 50 cents at a book sale I was surprised I enjoyed it. I'm always hooked into murder stories on Dateline or shows like that. My husband always changes the chann ...more
Dick Baldwin
This started out SO good. But, by the middle, it had reached the climax, and by the end, I'd wished it had ended 50 pages earlier. Basically, this is a true story about a double homicide that had been solved, but the person wasn't found for 27 years. Reason being, the suspect was presumed dead after a few years of trying to find him, so it was just filed away until a cop who had been friends with one of the victims started to wonder if the guy had ever been caught. So, he goes through the file a ...more
I do enjoy true crime, but this just lacked the usual suspense and story telling skills that better books of the same genre have. It is no surprise that this started as magazine articles; there really wasn't enough meat to the story to turn it into a book, even a short book such as this. The writing was uneven, perhaps due to its start as separate article and at times I felt confused by the changing perspective - the author vs. the police detective etc. The best part of the book was the short bi ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Gemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small, nonfiction account of a New York murder case where the identity of the killer was known, but his whereabouts were not, leading to an easy case that stretched on for years. Cold Case doesn't have a crazy, twisting story and trial to account for, so instead the focus is placed on the small party of cops trying to track down Frank Koehler (the killer) and the life and personality of Koehler himself. It's short, it's simple, it's an interesting and unsensationalized look at police work. I l ...more
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Philip Gourevitch:


(This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING The Downfall of American Publishing Issue)

This spring, Gourevitch became only the third editor in the 52-year history of The Paris Review, following the departure of Brigid Hughes, who initially took over the editorial reins after the death of George Plimpton in September 2003. Gourevitch is the author of two books of nonfiction, We Wish to Inform You That Tomo
Dennis Littrell
May 11, 2010 Dennis Littrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Gourevitch, Philip. A Cold Case (2001) ****
A quick read with some depth

This is about a small time hood, Frank G. Koehler, who got mad at a couple of guys and shot them both to death in cold blood while wounding a third party. That was in 1970. He escaped and was never brought to justice. Eventually the case was closed because somebody (Gourevitch doesn't tell us who) was of the "opinion" that Koehler had to be dead since (according to others) it was "virtually inconceivable that a man with such
Aug 11, 2016 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Years ago I read the New Yorker article this books is based on and thought there's more to the story, it could be a book. I'm guessing some editor thought the same thing and gave Gourevitch a big advance to flesh it out. Alas, the bigger story is still incomplete. It looks like they tried a few different angles to bring it to life and none of them panned out. It's still an interesting read, good to kill a round trip on the train.
This was a nice quick read for me. Even though a small book , the author gave us a good look inside catching a criminal from a detective's point of view . It also gave us a look into solving a cold case and raises good questions on solving a cold case . Does it bring closure to the victims or open old wounds ? Or both? This was a nice change of genre .
Adriano Pugno
Apr 25, 2016 Adriano Pugno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gourevitch riprende la lezione di A sangue freddo per regalarci un ritratto forte e ambivalente di un criminale ormai invecchiato e di un crimine commesso decine di anni fa. "Un caso freddo" pone molte domande sulla possibilità che ha un uomo di riabilitarsi, sulla natura ambientale di certe vite e sulle conseguenze del tempo che passa.
Tiffany Moore
This was a really good read. Honestly the first book I've read fully through in 13 years. I liked that I knew who was the murderer from the beginning but just as the investigator goes through I had to find how they will prove it! The last couple chapters seem a little out of sync with the rest of the book but still a great story!
Doris Herrmann
At the age of 15, Frankie Koehler killed two men in cold blood. This young mobster later killed one of Andy Rosenzweig's best friends. Thirty years later, with this case unsolved, Andy refuses to retired without solving the crime of his friend.

This book is more of a case study into the mind of Frankie Koehler and why this mod-style mentality exists. I relished in Gourevitch's book about the Rwanda genocide, so I looked forward to reading his account of this real-life drama. It was interesting an
Anna Engel
The author traces law enforcement's efforts to track down an all-around bad dude – murderer, robber, womanizer. Not a bad book, but not great either.
Audrey Saltarelli
he switched tenses through out the book and it really annoyed me
Apr 28, 2016 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this book. Great story telling
Alan Levin
Dec 11, 2014 Alan Levin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A riveting true crime tale.
Jan 01, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went to a reading by the author for his newest book, "The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. III", at Powell's Books and picked up this book. It was a good read, quick and more simply written than I expected from Gourevitch. "A Cold Case" is the true story of Andy Rosenzweig's (chief investigator of the Manhattan DA's office) resolution of an unsolved murder case from 1970 in NYC. The book delves into the mind of the killer and his life on the run.
Mar 28, 2015 Sae-chan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The whole story could be written in 10 pages. The writer should get 2-star for what he wrote. The 3-star was for what Mr. Koehler wrote.
Steve Wales
True crime is a genre I rarely, if ever, read so I don't know how common a feature this is, but the retelling of events with quotations from the people involved reminded me of 'dramatised documentary' programmes on TV where actors portray something described by a 'talking head' expert or similar. Interesting.

Best quote, from lawyer Murray Richman:
"Murder's my favorite. I love murder. Always one less witness to worry about."
Mar 09, 2011 P. rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic
Fans of the Wire should read this! It has the same sense of trying to show every part of someone--everyone's personal morality, and how that effects the world. And there is just good old-fashioned detective work. And it's a quick read. This is actually one I might listen to on audio if they got someone who could do Frank Koehler's heavy NY accent right.
Aug 08, 2013 Linh rated it it was ok
I love true crime but there really wasn't anything spectacular about the crime in A Cold Case. I know that sounds apathetic and almost cruel and innocent lives were lost in cold blooded murder but there was I didn't see a climax in this book. It read like a police report and was a super easy read. It was ok.
Nov 03, 2012 Lizzie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Concise, crisp account of a cop who succeeds in closing a cold case, a double homicide. The perp seems to be a true psychopath who never really feels remorse for his crime, only regret that he finally got caught. It was a New Yorker article and has that feel. Not great, but good.
Oct 25, 2009 Noah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't quite what I expected, but it's a great piece of reportage. It boils down to a character study of a career criminal and his pursuer, and it's a great read throughout. Gourevitch gets bonus points for his vivid portrait of street life in 1960's New York.
May 31, 2011 Beth666ann rated it it was ok
It's hard to write a "literary" true crime story. I appreciate this author's attempt not to sensationalize or be vulgar, but this story is told in such a restrained way that it started to seem lackluster. I got the feeling there was maybe not quite enough for a book here.
Apr 23, 2008 Sycobabel rated it really liked it
I'm not a True Crime buff but this is a fascinating portrait of a killer. The book starts off with an investigation into an unsolved crime and ends up being a really engaging human study of a sociopath. It's a quick read and not nearly as grisly as you might imagine.
Lisa Kelsey
A quick read just to get back on track with my book-reading goal. Simply written, true tale of an old-time NY gangster who finally paid his dues thirty years after a double murder. Very eloquently describes both the NYPD and the type of criminals of the 1960s in NYC.
Eveline Chao
Oct 09, 2011 Eveline Chao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
loved this. good mix of meditative/philosophical/abstract versus concrete/rooted in real details. also, one of those perfect joan didiaon-esque book lengths where you can read the whole thing in a day. and really inspiring, crystal clear, deceptively simple writing.
May 27, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
When I got to the acknowledgements at the end, I wasn't in the least surprised to learn that parts of this book originally appeared in the New Yorker; it still reads like a slightly expanded magazine article rather than a fully fleshed-out book.
Oct 11, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't my usual reading genre but was a great read! I couldn't put the book done because I was definitely enthralled by the characters and the great storytelling.
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Gourevitch was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to painter Jacqueline Gourevitch and philosophy professor Victor Gourevitch, a translator of Jean Jacques Rousseau. He and his brother Marc, a physician, spent most of their childhood in Middletown, Connecticut, where their father taught at Wesleyan University from 1967 to 1995. Gourevitch graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connec ...more
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