The Lazarus Files

A deeply-reported, riveting account of a cold case murder in Los Angeles, unsolved until DNA evidence implicated a shocking suspect - a female detective within the LAPD's own ranks.

On February 24, 1986, 29-year-old newlywed Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in the home she shared with her husband, John. The crime scene suggested a ferocious struggle, and police initially assumed it was a burglary gone awry. Before her death, Sherri had confided to her parents that an ex-girlfriend of John's, a Los Angeles police officer, had threatened her. The Rasmussens urged the LAPD to investigate the ex-girlfriend, but the original detectives only pursued burglary suspects, and the case went cold.

DNA analysis did not exist when Sherri was murdered. Decades later, a swab from a bite mark on Sherri's arm revealed her killer was in fact female, not male. A DNA match led to the arrest and conviction of veteran LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus, John's onetime girlfriend.

The Lazarus Files delivers the visceral experience of being inside a real-life murder mystery. McGough reconstructs the lives of Sherri, John and Stephanie; the love triangle that led to Sherri's murder; and the homicide investigation that followed. Was Stephanie protected by her fellow officers? What did the LAPD know, and when did they know it? Are there other LAPD cold cases with a police connection that remain unsolved?

My Review

I vaguely remember this case. It was very shocking not just because of the fact that Sherri's killer was a LAPD but because the killer was a female. While, sadly, there are a lot of murders that happen every year, the percentage of killers being female are still low. So whenever a murder is revealed to have been committed by a woman, it is still shocking.

Mr. McGough really did a very through job of investigating this case and gathering all of the facts he could. I felt like there was no rock left unturned in details. In fact, it was not until the latter third half of the book where I did start to feel like it went on a bit long. When the last section of the book focused on the authorities investigating Stephanie; is where my interest super speed up. You could say that my heart was racing.

As I got to know Stephanie and read her diary entries as well as how she interacted with co-workers, I am not surprised that she did turn into a murderer. She was so fixated on John that if it had not been Sherri; it would have been another woman that would have been her victim.

I like reading true crime. This is a catch twenty two. In order to have material to write true crime novels, someone had to have been murdered. Yet, I have to say that Mr. McGough is one of those writers that does justice to a true crime novel. I would read more of these types of books from him. Readers of true crime will want to pick up their copy of The Lazarus Files for themselves.

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