cover image Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Elon Green. Celadon, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-22435-4

Journalist Green debuts with an ambitious if flawed look at an obscure serial murder case. In the early 1990s, five men were picked up in gay bars in Manhattan by a man who stabbed them to death and dismembered their corpses. Green provides detailed backstories of the Last Call Killer’s victims, showing how their life paths led them to their fatal encounters with the man who murdered them, Richard Rogers. Rogers was a respected nurse in Mount Sinai’s cardiac surgical intensive care unit until his arrest in 2001 after a technology called vacuum metal deposition, previously unknown to the investigators, enabled them to match Rogers’s fingerprints to unidentified ones recovered from plastic bags used in the disposal of one of the bodies. In 2005, he was convicted of two murders and, the following year, sentenced to 30-years-to-life on each charge. While Green devotes attention to the lives of the five victims, those sections aren’t as memorable as the ones focusing on the investigations of their tragic deaths. Green’s at his best in analyzing how the crimes were handled at the time, when the victims’ sexual orientation led to the murders being treated less seriously. The author did his homework, spending over three years reviewing records and interviewing those who knew the victims, but his methodology can be spotty. At one point, he quotes then NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik about the handling of Rogers’s case, noting in a footnote, without elaboration, “Off the record, Kerik said something different,” leaving readers to wonder what that was and its significance. Green deserves credit for reviving awareness of the killings, but this won’t stand out amid the current true crime boom. [em]Agent: David Patterson, Stuart Krichevsky Literary. (Mar.) [/em]