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Last Call

A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Elon Green

Celadon Books

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ISBN10: 1250833027
ISBN13: 9781250833020

Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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Nominated for an Edgar Award

The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.

He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim.

Nor will he be his last.

The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the sky-high murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.

This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience.


Praise for Last Call

"A 'terrific, harrowing, true-crime account of an elusive serial killer who preyed upon gay men in the 1990s . . . [Green] provides an adrenalized police-procedural plot without ever losing sight of the fact that these were innocent human beings who were duped, butchered and discarded.'"The New York Times

"[In true crime], the killers often become the focus, the object of fascination. This is not true in Last Call, which puts the victims first, and which, when it does reveal the discovery of the killer, doesn't attempt to make him seem like an anti-hero."NPR

"True crime too often focuses on the 'bad guys' . . . In Last Call, Green instead foregrounds [the] known victims. He shows us the people they were and the lives they left behind. Their lives mattered, and Last Call is a testament to how homophobia shaped these men's lives and, eventually, their deaths."BookPage (starred review)

"In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history."David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

"Last Call feels like the most timeless literary true-crime classics, even as it forges a path through uncharted territory in the genre. Elon Green tenaciously yet gracefully investigates a time when so many lived in secret, and those secrets made them vulnerable to predation. A resonant, powerful book."Robert Kolker, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls and Hidden Valley Road

"Last Call, Elon Green's riveting true-crime thriller, works so vividly, so persuasively, that you feel as if Green was there through it all. He wasn't, to be sure, but his incisively detailed reportage will have you feeling that you are there too, to witness, with unnerving intimacy, a story as heartbreaking as it is harrowing."Benjamin Dreyer, The New York Times bestselling author of Dreyer's English

"Last Call is a great read, rich in history, humanity, and suspense. I couldn't put it down."Anne Lamott, The New York Times bestselling author

"Last Call, Elon Green's stunner of a debut, scaffolds the gripping hunt for a serial killer over a heartfelt elegy to the lost lives of the murdered men, of a community ravaged by AIDS, and of a city in perpetual ruin and revival. This is a book I will reread again and again and find new and astonishing insights every time."Sarah Weinman, award-winning author of The Real Lolita and editor of Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit & Obsession

"It’s not until nearly halfway through this gripping book that Green cites the name of the killer. That approach allows the author to expertly direct the suspense, leading readers to speculate about the background and personality of someone who was capable of dismembering a victim and placing the remains in trash bags . . . A deeply researched reclamation of a series of unfairly forgotten, gruesome crimes."Kirkus Reviews

"This captivating and thought-provoking read is a humanity-filled twist on the true crime genre."Booklist

"These crimes have been covered before, but Green sets his work apart by offering nuanced portraits of the victims and exploring how they navigated lives that led them to the bars that might have seemed like safe spaces but turned out to be anything but . . . Reflecting both its author’s compassion and journalistic chops, this gripping narrative also focuses on forensic innovation and jurisdictional intrigue. A stellar tale of justice eluded, to add to the growing queer true crime genre justice."Library Journal (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



May 5, 1991

Ten minutes short of three o’clock on a moderately warm Sunday afternoon, a turnpike maintenance worker was emptying the green barrels at a rest area in Lancaster County on the westbound side...

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About the author

Elon Green

Elon Green has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, and appears in Unspeakable Acts, Sarah Weinman’s anthology of true crime. Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York was his first book and won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime.

Natalie Sparaccio

Read Articles by the Author at Longform

Read Articles by the Author at Columbia Journalism Review