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Summary

Twenty-one-year-old Vancouver student Elisa Lam was last heard from on January 31, 2013, after she checked into downtown LA's Cecil Hotel - a 600-room building with a nine-decade history of scandal and tragedy. The next day, Elisa vanished. A search of the hotel yielded nothing. More than a week later, complaints by guests of foul-smelling tap water led to a grim discovery: Elisa's nude body floating in a rooftop water tank, in an area extremely difficult to access without setting off alarms. The only apparent clue was a disturbing surveillance video of Elisa, uploaded to YouTube in hopes of public assistance. 

As the eerie elevator video went viral, so did the questions of its tens of millions of viewers. Was Elisa's death caused by murder, suicide, or paranormal activity? Was it connected to the Cecil's sinister reputation? And in that video, what accounted for Elisa's strange behavior? With the help of web sleuths and investigators from around the world, journalist Jake Anderson set out to uncover the facts behind a death that had become a macabre internet meme. 

In Gone at Midnight, Anderson chronicles eye-opening discoveries about who Elisa Lam really was and what - or whom - she was running from, and presents shocking new evidence that may re-open one of the most chilling and obsessively followed true crime cases of the century.

©2020 Jake Anderson (P)2020 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Gone at Midnight

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Full of Good Data!

Having just watched the Netflix miniseries about Elisa Lam - this book is a timely reminder of the many broader aspects that surround this case. The thing is that something just does not feel right about this entire affair! Elisa has becone all things to all people - and is portrayed as a naive young woman from an ethnic minority background - or a progressive and highly switched on modern woman wise beyond her years! Was she raped, murdered and her body dumped in the water tower? Or, did she suffer a bizarre psychological episode that ultimately cost her her life?

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Needs a discerning proofreader

This book does tell the story of the sad death of Elisa Lam.

Unfortunately it takes such a circuitous route, especially the sheer volume of information about the author’s own struggle with mental health problems. They are relevant but should only have been mentioned in passing, those details would fill a good book alone.

The problem comes when the author tries combine his own experiences with Elisa Lam’s story. This, combined with all of the other blind alley details and explanations i.e an exhaustive monologue about Lithium, which includes; the Big Bang theory, it’s biological effects on the body and then the author’s own experiences and those of others who have taken Lithium. That’s just one of many, many examples. These all serve to dilute the story of a sad and terrible death.

As I say; it is unfortunate that the author doesn’t stay with his original theme and theories of what happened to Elisa Lam. This would have been a much better book for it.

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Fascinating-Every Avenue Explored

This is an extremely well researched book. I like the way the author also discusses mental health issues in depth & is brave enough to let us into his own mental health issues which are relevant to the story. It's a tragic case & my conclusion is that Elisa's death wasn't suicide or an accident, I think someone else was involved. Full marks for bringing this story into the open in such a comprehensive way.

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  • Lori D. Reim
  • 15-06-20

I really wanted to enjoy this but...

Oh boy! This book was one of the hardest to finish out of all of my true crime library. The author has either a great vocabulary or a great thesaurus but doesn’t use either very well. I have long been curious about the Elisa Lam story but this book did nothing to further my understanding of the death. By the end, I realized that the author really just needed a vessel to speak about his own mental health issues and Elisa’s death became that vessel. At least half of the book is about his struggle with bipolar disorder and if I’d heard him use the word “synchronicity” even once more, I would have just hit stop and requested my money back from audible. Read the Amazon reviews rather than the audible reviews on this one before you use a credit. I, for one, am just relieved that it’s done and have been considering how I was going to write this review for the last 5 hours of the book. I hate to leave a bad review because I recognize that considerable work has gone into it, but this one is just not worth the money.

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  • vebell
  • 15-07-20

Changed my mind

I was glad this book dove more into not only the case, but who she was. It ended up changing my mind about what happened without ever feeling too pushy about the authors personal ideas. Really interesting and I’m glad I was able to learn more about this incredible woman who suffered an awful fate.

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  • JR
  • 10-04-21

Does justice to Elisa Lam

I feel that this book (author, narrator) really did a good job of respectfully cutting through the BS and hyperbole

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sylvia Porter-Hall
  • 12-07-21

Misunderstood - Elisa

I found this book to be chalked full of mystery, intrigue, tragedy, and details that were an interesting mix of facts and half-truths. The narrator did an excellent job of stirring up the many "what if" questions, both sensical and nonsensical theories that are still floating around with as much fascination as when the strange death of Elisa Lam first hit the airwaves in 2013, drawing millions into a dark world of mystery, while leaving behind a trail of never-ending questions that have yet to be answered.

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  • Melissa Cribb
  • 24-03-21

Redundant and Rambling

The information revealed in this book could have been covered in 1/2 the time. Writer is too embroiled in his own material. Additionally, although I might have missed it as I finally just skipped to the end, we go through all of this meandering to no avail and never find out what happened ... death unresolved.

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  • Michelle
  • 01-03-21

Disappointing and disjointed

I was really hoping to learn something concrete from this book, but sadly, after 12 hours, I have not really added to my knowledge of the case. Since it is still officially an accidental death, I wasn't expecting a grand reveal or a smoking gun, just something that would provide some insights. The only insights I got were into the author's own mental health issues. He spends almost as much time talking about them as he does the Lam case. He also goes off on tangents about two serial killers who stayed at the Cecil - Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. I also know about those cases. They have no connection whatsoever to the Lam case, yet the author feels the need to go into detail about both cases. I don't know if he was trying to pad his manuscript or if he couldn't focus. Also the narrator is horrible. He mispronounces common words multiple times through out the book and does not have a very engaging style.

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  • Steven Marcato
  • 03-09-20

I need to see some sources here, Jake

Some of the things the author presents as undisputed struck an odd chord with me, so I tried to find where he might have sourced them. As one example, he says that the night stalker was made an honorary member of the church of satan after his sentencing. The only source I could find agreeing with this is from a book (side-note: it appears to have been written during the heyday of the satanic panic) that comes from interviews with the murderer himsef, who by all accounts was a church of satan fanboy. So he’s taking this story as fact, over several other credible sounding first-hand accounts saying lavey thought ramirez was quite a creep and had to chase him off his property at least once after he was caught sneaking around there at night. At this point in the book I got fed up with Jake and started to notice how much he complains about authorities not giving him information. It really seems like every other sentence ends with “...but the mean police man won’t give me the information I asked for”. Given how much effort he’s put into researching other details he’s included, I gotta doubt how hard he tried there. I am picturing hin sending one email to one cop from his yahoo account and not getting a reply, that level of effort seems about in line with the rest of it.

A more minor point, but his lack of insight about other people’s motivations is a mildly infuriating theme all through the book. “Surely nobody would stay at a hotel with so many crazy stories linked to it, so much character, possibly haunted, what appeal could that possibly hold for anybody”.

I guess the book serves a purpose in presenting the case somewhat compassionately, but I’d advise just watching the Brainscratch videos about it on youtube instead as these seem to be Jake’s primary (only?) source for information directly related to the case, and John Lordan presents it in a less irresponsible way. Jake doesn’t deserve your hard earned audible credits.

No complaints about the narration.

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  • Jennifer Beadle
  • 14-06-20

Mysterious Elisa

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book. It is a real life tragedy and mystery that the author respectfully investigated. The narrator also had a voice that engaged me and kept me wanting to hear more from him.

Although this book was centered on Elisa, It did cover portions of the Hotel Cecil as a potential haunt and/or a 'bad place' whether by artifice or by chance. He left me believing that Elisa succumbed to foul play in a dark and unfortunate location.

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  • Lisa
  • 01-05-20

Brilliantly written

This is a must read. This book will leave you with so many questions about the tragic death Of Elisa Lam. Where have we gone wrong as a society? This book will make you think, it will make you feel and wish you could have been there for Elisa. Thank you to the author Jake Anderson for being so open about his life and caring for another’s.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-04-20

Excellent

Wonderful coverage of the case/cases and a beautiful insight into the flawedness of the human mind.