Lost Girls (non-fiction book)

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Lost Girls
Lost Girls book cover image.jpeg
Author Caitlin Rother
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction, crime
Publisher Kensington Books
Publication date
July 3, 2012
Pages 420 pgs
ISBN 0786022183

Lost Girls is a 2012 non-fiction book by American-Canadian author and journalist Caitlin Rother about the rape and murder of teen-age girls Amber Dubois in 2009 and Chelsea King in 2010 at the hands of John Albert Gardner. It was published in July 2012 by Kensington Books. It was the author's eighth book.


In 2010, Gardner, after pleading guilty, was convicted of the rapes and murders of the two teenage girls and sentenced by a San Diego County Superior Court judge to two life sentences.[1]

The book explores how Gardner became a killer. The San Diego Reader said Lost Girls "draws a terrifying portrait of a man who was sweet and cuddly one day and a crazed killer the next."[2] It explains how the criminal justice system allowed a previous sex offender like Gardner to commit more offenses, including those against Dubois and King.[3]

Rother conducted an interview of Gardner in a California state prison, included in 15 pages in the book. The author also repeatedly interviewed Gardner's mother, a psychiatric nurse.[4]


The families of the victims opted not to be interviewed for the book. In July 2012, Amber Dubois' mother Carrie McGonigle attended the book's launch event with a handful of protestors wearing "Team Amber" T-shirts and carrying a sign that read "Remember the victims" at a Barnes & Noble store in San Diego. The author, according to news reports, stopped her presentation and acknowledged McConigle, telling her she was sorry for her loss as well as sorry that the book upset her, adding that she had intended it as a tribute to her daughter and Chelsea King, and as a way to prevent similar tragedies.[5][6]

The families of both victims, in a joint statement hours before the event, criticized Rother for writing a for-profit book and called on her to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to a victims charity.[7] Rother countered with her own statement, saying, in part, that she believed it was a story that needed to be told in depth, and that she hoped to educate readers about sex offenders.[8]


Lost Girls placed No. 4 in True Crime Zine reader's poll for the Top 10 Best True Crime Books of 2012.[9] The magazine, in a review, called the book "masterful, powerful writing."[10] The Los Angeles Times, in its review, described it as a "deeply reported, dispassionately written attempt to determine what created that monster and predator."[11] The San Diego Union-Tribune, where the author once worked as an investigative reporter, wrote in its review, "If ever a 'true crime' deserved a book-length study, this is certainly that crime."[12] Southwest Riverside News Network wrote that the book is a "panoramic telling of two tragedies of two girls lost to their families and the world forever."[13]


  1. ^ By Joseph Peña,  SDNN. "Confessed killer John Gardner sentenced to life for Chelsea and Amber's murders". Sdnn.com. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Creation of a Monster, John Gardner". San Diego Reader. 2012-06-27. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  3. ^ Cavanaugh, Maureen. "Rother Responds To Controversy Over Her True Crime Book 'Lost Girls'". KPBS.org. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  4. ^ Grieco, Sarah (2012-07-05). "King, Dubois Parents Ask Author to Donate Proceeds | NBC 7 San Diego". Nbcsandiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  5. ^ 9:47 p.m. (2012-07-05). "Firestorm erupts over book about girls' murderer Page 1 of 2". UTSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  6. ^ Shin, Tony. "Amber Dubois' Mother Confronts 'Lost Girls' Author | NBC 7 San Diego". Nbcsandiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  7. ^ Wilkens, John (2012-07-05). "PROTESTS GREET BOOK ABOUT MURDERS OF TEENS Page 1 of 2". UTSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  8. ^ 4:03 p.m. (2012-07-05). "Chelsea and Amber's parents decry new book". UTSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  9. ^ January 19, 0797 1:58 pm (2013-01-11). "Best True Crime Books 2012 Winners List". True Crime Zine. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  10. ^ Kim Cantrell (2012-07-16). "John Gardner book: Lost Girls by Caitlin Rother". True Crime Zine. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  11. ^ By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times (2012-10-14). "'Lost Girls' by Caitlin Rother is a close look at a killer: Review - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  12. ^ Reviewed by Natalie Wilson (2012-07-20). "‘LOST’ OPPORTUNITY Page 1 of 2". UTSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  13. ^ Mabee, Kerri S. (2012-07-05). "'Lost Girls' delves into mind of man who murdered Amber Dubois, Chelsea King - Southwest Riverside County News | Riverside, CA Local News". Swrnn.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 

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