cover image Catch the Sparrow: A Search for a Sister and the Truth of Her Murder

Catch the Sparrow: A Search for a Sister and the Truth of Her Murder

Rachel Rear. Bloomsbury, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63557-723-5

Rear debuts with an engrossing account of her search for the truth about her stepsister’s murder, which leads to painful discoveries and frustrating answers. Stephanie Kupchynsky, a music teacher, disappeared in 1991 at age 27. In 1998, when Rear was 20, her mother married Kupchynsky’s father, shortly before his daughter’s decomposing remains were found in a creek close to Kupchynsky’s last home in an apartment complex in Greece, N.Y. Rear, who never knew her stepsister but was haunted by the tragedy, began her own inquiry, meeting with both people who had dated Kupchynsky and those in law enforcement who searched for her and her killer. Meanwhile, in 1994, Edward Laraby, a sexual predator who had been a maintenance worker in Kupchynsky’s apartment building, was arrested in a rape case and convicted that same year. In 2011, Laraby confessed in prison to killing Kupchynsky, laughing as he did so, but he died in 2014 before he could be tried for that crime. Rear’s personal connection to the case, and resonances between her own experiences of being victimized by men, as well as her stepsister’s experiences of being victimized, give this account a hefty emotional impact. This combination of true crime inquiry and revelatory memoir will linger in readers’ minds long after they finish it. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (Feb.)