Bringing Adam Home: UCF Orlando Book Festival Spotlight

Friday, March 11, 2011

I was fortunate recently to read and review Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America by Les Standiford and Sgt. Joe Matthews. I thought the details of the twenty-seven year long investigation were sadly riveting. There's a lot about that investigation I was not aware of. Les Standiford chronicled an important case that ultimately impacted the country in many ways.

Les Standiford is the author of 15 books, both fiction and non-fiction. I didn't realize it until I was reading his bio, but I have another of his books on my TBR, The Man Who Invented Christmas about Charles Dickens and his writing of A Christmas Carol.

A little more about Les Standiford from the UCF Book Festival website:

Booklist called John Deal, the recurring series character in many of Standiford's novels, "the most emotionally centered protagonist in crime fiction today," and the New York Times has said of his suspense writing, "each scene is like a little gasp for breath." Standiford edited and contributed to The Putt at the End of the World (2001) and edited the anthology of crime fiction Miami Noir (2006). He also authored one of the chapters in the national best-selling satire, Naked Came the Manatee (1998), with Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen and others.

Les Standiford has received the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A native Ohioan, he is a graduate of Muskingum College and holds the M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Utah. He is Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife Kimberly, a psychotherapist, and their three children, Jeremy, Hannah, and Alexander.

And the synopsis for his book from the same website (in case you missed the link to my review up top) ;)

Before Adam Walsh there were no faces on milk cartons, no Amber Alerts, no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no federal databases of crimes against children, no pedophile registry. His 1981 abduction and murder—unsolved for over a quarter of a century—forever changed America.

One sunny July morning in 1981, Revé Walsh and her six-year-old son Adam stopped by the local Sears to pick up some new lamps. Enchanted by a video game at the store's entrance, Adam begged Revé to let him try it out while she shopped. When she returned a few minutes later, Adam was gone.

The shock of Adam's murder, and of the inability of the police and the FBI to find his killer, radically altered American innocence and our ideas about childhood. Gone forever were the days when parents would allow their kids out of the house with the casual instruction "Be home by dark!"

Revé and John Walsh—who would go on to create America's Most Wanted—became advocates for the transformation of law enforcement's response to and handling of such cases. Prompted by the Walshes' activism, Congress passed the Missing Children Act in 1982, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was founded in 1984.

While our lives have been significantly altered by Adam Walsh's case, few of us know the whole story—how, after more than twenty-seven years of relentless investigation, decorated Miami Beach homicide detective Joe Matthews finally identified Adam's killer.

Bringing Adam Home is the definitive account of this horrifying crime—which, like the Lindbergh kidnapping fifty years earlier, captured public attention—and its aftermath, a true story of tragedy, love, faith, and dedication. It reveals the pain and tenacity of a family determined to find justice, the failed police work that allowed a killer to remain uncharged, and the determined efforts of one cop who accomplished what an entire legal system could not. As harrowing as In Cold Blood, yet ultimately uplifting, Bringing Adam Home is the riveting story of a triumph of justice and the enduring power of love.


Juju at Tales of said...

O wow. How very very cool!

So have you put any thought into which of any of the panels you'll be attending?

Zibilee said...

You really are featuring some great highlights of the festival! I haven't read much about Les Standiford, but after reading your review of Bringing Adam Home and this spotlight post, I am beginning to think I am missing out. Great job on this post!

Jenny said...

Juju: Yup! As of right now I want to go to who put the thrill in thriller (daniel palmer is on that panel), Capturing American Life (tayari jones on that one), conflicting loyalties: cross-racial relationships (that has dolen perkins-valdez on that panel), and then family secrets which has eleanor brown on the panel. It's all planned out, LOL!

Heather: I'm really looking forward to listening to all these authors!

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