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The Last Stone: A Masterpiece of Criminal Interrogation Paperback – March 17, 2020

4.3 out of 5 stars 985 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2019: In 1975, Bowden (Black Hawk Down, Hue 1968, among other critically acclaimed titles) was a young Baltimore reporter covering the disappearance of two sisters, 11 and 13, from a shopping mall in suburban Washington D.C. Though the police had suspects, the investigation dead-ended until 2013, when a cold case detective chanced upon a curious statement given by a man named Lloyd Welch, who was serving time for a series of unrelated but similar crimes. It became quickly apparent that Welch is also a compulsive liar, but not a smart or skilled one—his statements to the police were riddled with inconsistencies and abrupt about-faces, even if he often seemed self-satisfied with his transparently false evasions. The five detectives working the mystery untangled his ever-changing stories through polygraph tests, bargaining, and conversations with Welch's sprawling Appalachian family. But most critically, a series of extensive interviews, each successively tweaked and refined to shrink Welch's circle of deceptions, leads them closer to solving an unspeakable crime. "A Masterpiece of Criminal Interrogation" is an apt subtitle. The outcome won't (or shouldn’t) be a total surprise; the end-game feels inevitable, and readers will be compelled to conduct their own internet-based research as they go. But in the same way that The Jinx and The Staircase were compulsively watchable despite what you might have known about the outcomes, the detectives' shrewd diligence and the mechanics of their investigation make the ride-along well worth the time. --Jon Foro, Amazon Book Review

Review

Praise for The Last Stone:

“With its blistering descriptions of an American special-forces operation gone wrong, Mark Bowden's 1999 nonfiction book Black Hawk Down made for excellent action-movie fare. The story told in his latest work, the deeply unsettling The Last Stone, unfolds more slowly but is no less potent. Bowden displays his tenacity as a reporter in his meticulous documentation of the case.”―Alejandro de la Garza, Time

The Last Stone is a rigorous documenting of the 40-year journey taken by Montgomery County detectives and the cold-case team that interrogated Lloyd Welch. It's a riveting, serpentine story about the dogged pursuit of the truth, regardless of the outcome or the cost. And it's a useful reminder that in an age of science, forensics, and video and data surveillance, the ability of one human being to coax the truth from another remains the cornerstone of a successful investigation.”―NPR

“In The Last Stone, Bowden focuses on 21 months of questioning by a revolving cast of detectives, telling a stirring, suspenseful, thoughtful story that, miraculously, neither oversimplifies the details nor gets lost in the thicket of a four-decade case file. This is a cat-and-mouse tale, told beautifully. But like all great true crime, The Last Stone finds its power not by leaning into cliché but by resisting it ― pushing for something more realistic, more evocative of a deeper truth. In this case, Bowden shows how even the most exquisitely pulled-off interrogations are a messy business, in which exhaustive strategizing is followed by game-time gut decisions and endless second-guessing and soul-searching.”―Robert Kolker, The New York Times

“Bowden delivers a narrative nonfiction masterpiece in this account of fiercely dedicated police detectives working to close a cold case.. This is an intelligent page-turner likely to appeal even to readers who normally avoid true crime.”―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Riveting…A keen synthesis of an intricate, decadeslong investigation, a stomach-churning unsolved crime, and a solid grasp of time, place, and character results in what is sure to be another bestseller for Bowden.”―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Mark Bowden:

“A Woodward that outdoes even Woodward.” ―Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

“Amazing . . . One of the most intense, visceral reading experiences imaginable. . . . The individual stories are woven together in such a compelling and expert fashion, the narrative flows so seamlessly, that it’s hard to imagine that this is not fiction.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer on Black Hawk Down

“The reader can visualize the action, smell the dust and sweat and the reek of explosives, and even enter into the exultation, fear, rage, pain, confusion, and exhaustion of the combatants. . . . Because he was able to interview survivors on both sides relatively soon after the action, Bowden’s story has a vitality and freshness usually lacking in accounts of combat.” ―The New York Review of Books on Black Hawk Down

“A compelling, almost Shakespearean tale.” ―Los Angeles Times on Killing Pablo

“Bowden has emerged as one of our best writers of muscular nonfiction.” ―Edward P. Smith, Denver Post

“Mark Bowden is the reigning champion of narrative non-fiction.” ―Alex Massie, Scotland on Sunday (UK)

“Heart-stopping, and heart-breaking.” ―New York Times Book Review on Guests of the Ayatollah

"Bowden is consistently curious about the anonymous, often invisible operators who power modern warfare–drone operators, intelligence agents, special forces teams . . . Bowden tells a good story.” ―Michael Schulson, Salon on The Three Battles of Wanat

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (March 17, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802148913
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802148919
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 985 ratings

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Mark Bowden is the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, Killing Pablo, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
985 global ratings

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