What drew me to the Last Call was the fact that I'd never heard of this case before. Something that felt wrong because I grew up in the '90s, and I felt like a crime like this should have been one of the ones that stuck with me. In fact, I even realized that in my Case Studies class a lifetime ago, we never even touched on this case. I wanted to know why.
I got my answer, whether I liked it or not.
This is one of those books where it feels wrong to say I liked it. The stories this book tells aren't happy ones, and the picture it paints isn't a pretty one either. But, it is well written and well researched. It tells the stories of the victims of Last Call Killer, their lives, and of those they left behind. It tells a story about a piece of American history that I don't ever remember learning about in school. This book broke my heart in so many ways. It left me angry at the end, not with writing, but with how this case was handled. How these people were treated and just how long it took to get them justice.
Personally, I think the best part of Last Call is how not once do you see the author's opinion on the page, or even feel them as the story unfolds. Elon Green wanted this to be about the victims and those they left behind, and I feel like he accomplished that. Through their stories, the story of why this case almost went unsolved was told. For me the more the police failed to do anything the more frustrated I got. As the chapters started to jump in years and more hurdles had to be jumped, I got angry.
It shouldn't have taken them over a decade to catch a man who killed and mutilated four people.
On that note, I really liked that Roger's is almost a footnote in this book. Yes, there is a chapter about his past and little add-ons here and there, but never once is an excuse given for what he did. There aren't several chapters on what drove him to do this. This book is about his victims, not him. I wish more true crime books were set up this way.
The inclusions of murder maps were also nice. I don't know the East Coast all that well. So having them helped me get my bearings when so many jurisdictions were involved.
Lastly, I liked how small this book was, just shy of three hundred pages. I don't feel like anything was missing information-wise, or we didn't get a sense of who each victim was before they met Roger's. These crimes were horrific in nature and Elon Green did a fine job of showing with that making it grotesque. I also felt by using other people's stories he painted a pretty ugly picture of the decade and the AIDS Crisis.
As I said early, the end of this book got me fired up. The fact that Roger's should have been jailed twice before this but skated away, on top of just a lack of empathy for these victims, and just stupid judgment calls that hindered the investigation. It all just led to me nearly throwing the book against a wall. We'll never how many people Roger's actually hurt thanks to the quick draw to bring Roger's into custody, and his refusal to talk to anyone. But, I'm glad I read this book. I'm glad this story was finally told, and this is a book I'm definitely passing around to my friend group.