Summary: Camden, NJ, 1948.
When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.
This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.
Review: 3 stars
Rust and Stardust is the fictionalized telling of the true crime story of the kidnapping of Sally Horner by Frank LaSalle. It brought the people affected by that crime to life and insight to what it might have really been like for Sally. I originally expected this novel to suck, but it was actually pretty decent. Since it was based on a true story it really horrified me at times, that monsters like Frank are real. This is not just another thriller for entertainment.
The characters were all a bit naïve, which is partly due to the time period. I think that contributed how Frank was able to kidnap Sally in the first place, but I also had to remind myself that she was only a kid. I really feel for Sally, but also admire her. In this novel she was able to find bright spots in the absolute darkest of times. It was remarkable how resilient she remained.
The plot didn’t follow the normal story arc that you would expect, because this was based on a true story. It did follow Sally’s life when she was kidnapped, her family’s life during that time, and the investigation to find her. I would have thought that more of the story would be about the investigation, but it wasn’t, it was about Sally. I’m glad the novel brought her life and told her story.
The writing was good, but not exactly compelling. The book didn’t keep me up late or have me dying to know what happened next. This is a sad, but true story that deserved to be told. It was well researched, but not really a fun read. It is sobering to know that these events really happened. I would recommend this book to those who like true crime stories, but not necessarily the for mystery fanatics.