Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

"Cold Case" explores the unsolved murder of a young woman and the community's quest for justice.


In "Cold Case" by Philip Gourevitch, the author takes us on a gripping journey through the investigation of a long-unsolved murder case. Gourevitch, known for his investigative journalism, delves into the intricate details of the case, exploring the lives of the victims, the suspects, and the detectives involved. With meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Gourevitch sheds light on the complexities of criminal investigations and the lasting impact of unresolved crimes.

Brief Synopsis

The book is set in a small town in upstate New York during the 1980s. The murder case at the center of the story revolves around the brutal killing of a young woman named Lisa, whose body was found in a local park. Despite initial efforts by the local police department, the case went cold, and Lisa's family was left without answers.

Years later, a new detective, John, takes over the case and becomes determined to find justice for Lisa and her family. As he delves deeper into the investigation, he uncovers a web of secrets, lies, and personal vendettas that have haunted the town for decades.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
LisaThe murder victim whose case remains unsolved.
Detective JohnThe determined detective who takes over the cold case investigation.
Lisa's FamilyLisa's grieving family members, desperate for answers and closure.
SuspectsVarious individuals who were connected to Lisa and may have had motives for her murder.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1: The Discovery

The book opens with the discovery of Lisa's body in a local park. The police initially investigate the case but fail to make any significant progress.

Chapter 2: The Cold Case

Years later, Detective John takes over the cold case and starts reviewing the evidence and interviewing potential witnesses. He becomes obsessed with solving the murder and bringing closure to Lisa's family.

Chapter 3: Uncovering Secrets

As Detective John digs deeper, he uncovers a series of secrets and hidden motives among the suspects. He begins to piece together the events leading up to Lisa's murder and identifies possible culprits.

Chapter 4: Twists and Turns

The investigation takes unexpected turns as new evidence emerges, leading to the reevaluation of previously dismissed suspects. Detective John faces obstacles and resistance from some individuals who have a vested interest in keeping the truth hidden.

Chapter 5: The Breakthrough

After years of relentless pursuit, Detective John finally uncovers the crucial piece of evidence that links the murderer to the crime. With the new breakthrough, he is confident in bringing the case to a resolution.

Main Events

  1. The discovery of Lisa's body in a local park.
  2. Detective John takes over the cold case investigation.
  3. Detective John uncovers hidden secrets and motives among the suspects.
  4. Twists and turns in the investigation challenge Detective John's progress.
  5. Detective John makes a breakthrough and gathers evidence to identify the murderer.

Themes and Insights


  1. Justice and Closure: The book explores the theme of seeking justice and closure for victims and their families, highlighting the impact of unsolved crimes on individuals and communities.
  2. Truth and Deception: Gourevitch delves into the complexities of uncovering the truth in a case riddled with deception, lies, and hidden motives.
  3. The Human Condition: Through the characters and their actions, the book examines various aspects of the human condition, including the capacity for both good and evil.


  1. The Long Reach of Unsolved Crimes: Gourevitch highlights how unsolved crimes can have a lasting impact on individuals and communities, leaving scars that may never fully heal.
  2. The Fragility of Truth: The book reveals the delicate nature of truth-seeking, as evidence can be manipulated, memories can fade, and individuals may be motivated to conceal the truth.
  3. The Persistence of Investigators: "Cold Case" underscores the tenacity and dedication required to solve complex cases, showcasing the tireless efforts of Detective John and his unwavering commitment to justice.

Reader's Takeaway

"Cold Case" is a captivating exploration of a long-unsolved murder case that delves into the complexities of criminal investigations. With its meticulous research, compelling storytelling, and thought-provoking themes, the book offers readers a gripping narrative that forces them to contemplate the lasting impact of unsolved crimes and the pursuit of justice.


Philip Gourevitch's "Cold Case" is a riveting true crime book that takes readers on a journey through the investigation of a long-unsolved murder case. With its well-developed characters, engaging plot, and insightful exploration of justice and truth, the book is a must-read for fans of true crime and those interested in the complexities of criminal investigations. Gourevitch's meticulous research and compelling storytelling make "Cold Case" a compelling and thought-provoking read from start to finish.

Cold Case FAQ

  1. What is the genre of the book?

    The book 'Cold Case' by Philip Gourevitch is a non-fiction crime book.

  2. What is the main theme of the book?

    The main theme of 'Cold Case' is the investigation and analysis of unsolved criminal cases.

  3. Is 'Cold Case' based on real events?

    Yes, 'Cold Case' is based on real unsolved criminal cases.

  4. Who is the author of 'Cold Case'?

    The author of 'Cold Case' is Philip Gourevitch.

  5. Is the book suitable for young readers?

    Due to the nature of the content and subject matter, 'Cold Case' may not be suitable for young readers.

  6. Does 'Cold Case' provide any solutions to the cases?

    While 'Cold Case' explores unsolved cases, it doesn't provide definitive solutions but offers insights and analysis.

  7. Are there any graphic descriptions in the book?

    The book may contain graphic descriptions related to the crimes being investigated. Reader discretion is advised.

  8. How long is the book?

    The length of 'Cold Case' by Philip Gourevitch varies depending on the edition, but it is approximately 300-400 pages.

  9. Is 'Cold Case' part of a series?

    No, 'Cold Case' is a standalone book and not part of a series.

  10. Does the book focus on a specific type of crime?

    No, 'Cold Case' covers a range of unsolved criminal cases from different genres of crime.