The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central


Grim Sleeper cover final

 

Christine Pelisek
The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central
(Counterpoint Press, June 2017)

One of The York Times Book Review‘s “Summer Reads: True Crime”
One of Literary Hub’s “5 Crime Must-Reads coming in June”
One of Bitch Media’s “17 Books You Should Read In June”
One of BookBub‘s “15 New True Crime Books for Fans of Thrillers”
One of Bustle‘s “9 True Crime Books Out This Year That Are Just As Addictive As ‘Law & Order'”

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.

Praise for The Grim Sleeper:

“Painfully relevant…The heart of this book — which is indeed grim, but also necessary — is in its subtitle, ‘The Lost Women of South Central.’”
– Alexander Nazaryan, Los Angeles Times

“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 Reviews

“The book expands beyond the Grim Sleeper case to show how often similar victims found in high-crime areas are neglected by the police and the press, save for people like Pelisek. ”
– Literary Hub, 5 Crime Must-Reads

“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: “Body-dump cases” aren’t sexy. L.A. loves its gaudy killers and gives them fun names like the Dating Game Killer and the Skid Row Slasher. But nobody bothers to baptize nonentities like Franklin, who killed an estimated 38 black, crack-addicted prostitutes…As “the most invisible and vulnerable class of people,” dead prostitutes are small potatoes…Pelisek works up a froth of outrage about this and tries to restore dignity to some of the victims by drawing sympathetic and carefully detailed life histories for each and every one of them.”
– The New York Times Book Review

“[In] The Grim Sleeper, the excellent new book by former LA Weekly journalist Christine Pelisek . . . Crack serves as a kind of accomplice to murder, driving desperate women to the street and, finally, into the arms of a killer.”
– Mark Reinstein, Newsweek

“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 . . . [A]n engrossing read for those invested in true crime, but also a cautionary tale for law enforcement.”
– Bitch Media

“Christine Pelisek explains how she broke the story in her new book, The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central. She talks about the investigation and the trial of Lonnie Franklin, the man eventually convinced of many of the killings. Pelisek also digs into the lives of women who were killed, the names on that list from the coroner’s office.”
– Madeleine Brand, KCRW’s Press Play

“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.”
– Marcia Kaye, Toronto Star

“A dark and disturbing story that reveals the failure of the police and the justice system in impoverished communities of color, The Grim Sleeper is a must-read for true crime fans who want to see how crime reporting can make a difference.”
– Bustle 

 

Read an excerpt from The Grim Sleeper in LA Weekly, the paper where author Christine Pelisek originally broke the story.
Read about THE GRIM SLEEPER in the Los Angeles Times “Big Story” round-up
Read about THE GRIM SLEEPER in Newsweek
Read the Los Angeles Times’ book review of Christine Pelisek’s The Grim Sleeper
Read an excerpt of THE GRIM SLEEPER in The Daily Beast
Read the interview with Christine Pelisek at Bitch Media
Listen to the interview with Christine Pelisek on KCRW’s Press Play with Madeleine Brand
Read Christine Pelisek’s coverage of the Grim Sleeper trial for PEOPLE Magazine
Read the PEOPLE Magazine feature article about Christine Pelisek’s decade-long involvement with the Grim Sleeper case

Read an excerpt from The Grim Sleeper, about the interrogation of Lonnie Franklin Jr., in PEOPLE Magazine
Watch Christine Pelisek discuss writing The Grim Sleeper on the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books panel “Lost Stories of the West” on C-SPAN/Book TV

The Grim Sleeper chosen as “5 Crime Must-Reads coming in June” by Literary Hub
Chosen by The York Times Book Review “Summer Reads: True Crime”
Read Bitch Media‘s review of The Grim Sleeper
Read the Merry Jane interview with Christine Pelisek
Read the What’s Nonfiction? review of THE GRIM SLEEPER
Read the Toronto Star review of THE GRIM SLEEPER
Listen to Christine Pelisek in conversation with Thinking Sideways Podcast
Listen to the interview with Christine Pelisek on Thinking Sideways Podcast
Listen to the interview with Christine Pelisek on True Murder Podcast with Dan Zupansky
Chosen as one of Bustle‘s “9 True Crime Books Out This Year That Are Just As Addictive as ‘Law & Order'”

 

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.