Title: Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America
Author: Les Standiford with Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews
Genre: Non-Fiction, Crime
Publisher: Ecco (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: March 1, 2011
Most people are familiar with the case of Adam Walsh, the six-year-old boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. His father, John Walsh, went on to host America's Most Wanted, but for 27 years, the murder of his own son remained unsolved. In Bringing Adam Home, Les Standiford, along with Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews, who ultimately solved the cold case, chronicle the investigation from the moment of Adam's abduction in July of 1981.
Despite various newspapers publishing various articles about the case throughout the past three decades, very few people actually had all the facts. They're finally revealed in full in this book. I was astonished as I read this. The mistakes that were made all throughout the case from the very beginning through every step of the way were astounding. I found myself shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the way certain people handled the investigation. It's easy to forget that detectives, just like everyone else, are humans with all the same variety of traits that other people have be it motives, laziness, etc. It truly takes the passion and hard work of a dedicated investigator to solve cases. And the murder of Adam Walsh is one that could have been proven years earlier if more effort had just been put into it.
If anything is to have come of Adam Walsh's horrific abduction, it is that America started paying attention and changes were made in the system to better protect children. It's scary that as recently as the 80's, none of the things we take for granted now were in place such as Amber Alerts, a national sex offender registry, any national databases of missing children, or even the ability for police departments to share information about missing or exploited children without difficulty. As with all other movements and laws to protect children, they have come about at a time when, in retrospect, it was barbaric that they weren't in existence already. In the book, Standiford discusses how at the time of Adam Walsh's abduction, more legal manpower was placed on missing vehicles than on missing children. It sounds so backward now. But we have Adam's parents, John and Reve Walsh to thank for advocating for children in the nation so that we are better able to protect them. Although this book's focus was really the investigation, which is sadly interesting enough with all the scandal associated with it, I also learned a little more about the laws that were enacted to protect children over the last 25 years. Some of them were very recent too.
As for the writing style, I really enjoyed Standiford's voice. Of course, I really don't know what was written by Standiford and what by Matthews, but the incredulous voice of the author made the narrative engaging. It felt like I was having a serious conversation with a very well-informed friend. The conclusion to the investigation, the ultimate piece of evidence, will absolutely shock you if you don't already know what it is. But it might disgust you too. Just beware that you are going into a book about a child who suffered a very violent crime. Det. Matthews should be considered a hero for his dedication to this case (not to mention the work he has put into solving so many other crimes). It's really devastating that it took 27 years to solve this murder, especially when it likely could have been done so a year after it happened. But this book is important in demonstrating how an investigation can go wrong and what it takes to protect our children. I was riveted by the detailed chronology of events depicted by Standiford and Matthews. Anyone who has had any interest in this case will enjoy this book, as well as anyone interested in child protection or true crime.