Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

A Los Angeles hotel with a haunting history. A missing young woman. A disturbing video followed by a shocking discovery. A cold-case mystery that has become an internet phenomenon--and for one determined journalist, a life-changing quest toward uncomfortable truths.Twenty-one-year-old Vancouver student Elisa Lam was last heard from on January 31, 2013, after she checked...

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Title:Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam
Author:Jake Anderson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam Reviews

  • Lisa Leone-campbell

    In 2013 Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old student who checked into a seedy ominous hotel in Los Angeles, a hotel with a history of violence, suicides and death, and she never checked out. What followed was probably the most bizarre investigation, one in which Elisa Lam in her death has been elevated to cult-like status.

    After Elisa went missing and police were notified there was a search of the hotel. They could not find her. It was as if she had just up and vanished. A week later when tenants and

    In 2013 Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old student who checked into a seedy ominous hotel in Los Angeles, a hotel with a history of violence, suicides and death, and she never checked out. What followed was probably the most bizarre investigation, one in which Elisa Lam in her death has been elevated to cult-like status.

    After Elisa went missing and police were notified there was a search of the hotel. They could not find her. It was as if she had just up and vanished. A week later when tenants and guests began to complain about the odor and color of the tap water in their sinks, and someone went onto the roof to look into the water tanks, they discovered to their horror Elisa's naked body floating with her clothes beside her. And this is truly when the mystery begins and still remains unsolved. How did she get there?

    The book, Gone at Midnight chronicles Elisa Lam's movements as best as can be done both by eyewitness and social media posts, the history of the Cecil Hotel, where she stayed and was found dead, a hotel where not one, but two serial killers stayed, an odd video which was mysteriously posted of Elisa in an elevator at the hotel which may be her last movements just before her disappearance (a video which you can see on YouTube) and if you are going to read the book I suggest you view; many conspiracy theories, law enforcement suppression of evidence and lastly how mental illness may have played a role.

    Up to today, although the coroner finally ruled the death accidental, only after he first ruled it as inconclusive, there are more questions than answers as to what happened to Elisa and how she ended up in a water tank on a roof even though the roof had been searched by police and dog sniffers a week prior to finding her.

    Author Jake Anderson became obsessed with the case (and still is) after seeing the initial elevator video which shows Elisa's odd behavior. Was she being followed or was she having some sort of manic episode? Anderson then found out the tape seems to have time missing from it. Why? He then began looking at Lam's on-line social media presence which was abundant. And stopped abruptly two days before her death.

    He seems to find evidence of police/corporate conspiracy at the Cecil Hotel as well as evidence suppression. With no official from the police department or the hotel willing to talk to him about anything, Anderson begins looking on the internet at website conspiracy sites and finds a plethora of information, some real and some outlandish. He then must sift through the reality versus the imagined.

    Gone at Midnight, although a true story, reads like a psychological horror novel. Anderson meticulously takes the reader through the evidence, or lack of, the witnesses, some whom have disappeared, and the emotional mental journey Elisa Lam seemed to be on at the time of her death.

    Will there ever be any type of resolution as to what really happened to Elisa Lam? If Jake Anderson has his way there most certainly will.

    Thank you to #NetGalley #Citadel #JakeAnderson #GoneAtMidnight for the advanced copy.

  • Nancy Hudson

    The disappearance and death of Elisa Lam on February 19, 2013 from the infamous Cecil Hotel in downtown LA is one of the most scrutinized and mysterious cases of the past decade, in no small measure due to the lack of transparency by the LAPD and the hotel management up to the present time. Not to mention the hotel has been the home of serial killers, sexual predators, murderers and jumpers for decades. In investigating and researching this case Jake Anderson embarks on a foray over many years

    The disappearance and death of Elisa Lam on February 19, 2013 from the infamous Cecil Hotel in downtown LA is one of the most scrutinized and mysterious cases of the past decade, in no small measure due to the lack of transparency by the LAPD and the hotel management up to the present time. Not to mention the hotel has been the home of serial killers, sexual predators, murderers and jumpers for decades. In investigating and researching this case Jake Anderson embarks on a foray over many years into not only the mysterious death and its surrounding circumstances and context but also into the often murky but ever evolving field of mental illness, in the process making stunning discoveries about his own life and struggles with depression and bipolar disorder.

    The author does an excellent and thorough job researching this case and imparts a significant amount of interesting information about the theories behind this case consulting with a large number of web sleuths and people tangentially associated with either Elisa or the hotel and police. He studied Elisa’s online blogs and social media revealing the complex yet clearly confused and disturbed mind of a young woman searching for her identity and personal peace. He treats these discoveries with the utmost respect and caring. He dissects the theories put up by conspiracy theorists and also gives us a rather well condensed history of the LAPD at that time and their culture of corruption and history of cover-ups. As so much was done wrong when this case was investigated we still don’t know the entire truth but the author thinks the answer is out there and waiting to be found.

    The only complaint I have about the book is the length as the author has a tendency to be repetitive and can jump from topic to topic very abruptly. Additional editing would be helpful to tighten up the narrative. While I felt the author’s personal asides were at times outside the scope of the book it was nonetheless a great way to show how mental illness affects our sense of ourselves and our reality and it has direct relevance to Elisa Lam and the background of this case.

    Overall this was a very well researched and well written book. I was impressed me with the level of concern and sincere interest the author showed for the victim and his strong desire to continue searching for the ultimate truth.

    Thank you to Net Galley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jeanette

    This is a challenge. Be patience. Not only with the book, but with me. Because I finished nearly 2 days ago and am still positing a reaction. Especially upon that rating above since it is closer to a 2 star than a 4 in at least 1/2 of its parts. It's just this. The good parts are superb in their explanations and core "eyes" of mental illness. That's why the 4 star overall, raised from the 3.5 "actual" totality.

    Jake Anderson has mental illness. Elisa Lam had mental illness. Not exactly the same

    This is a challenge. Be patience. Not only with the book, but with me. Because I finished nearly 2 days ago and am still positing a reaction. Especially upon that rating above since it is closer to a 2 star than a 4 in at least 1/2 of its parts. It's just this. The good parts are superb in their explanations and core "eyes" of mental illness. That's why the 4 star overall, raised from the 3.5 "actual" totality.

    Jake Anderson has mental illness. Elisa Lam had mental illness. Not exactly the same but with many intersects and "without my meds" conditions. So the eyes of the title case and the eyes of the author become embedded and entrenched in parts of this. To the point that the Cecil becomes the 3rd part of the triangle too. The result is extremely creepy, quite beyond the physical damage quotient reality of that particular entity.

    It's not the best title for this book. At least 1/3rd of it is NOT just about Elisa Lam and her death case but about the history, witness, and ambiance of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Those chapters (around chapter 7 and 8) were near to 5 star in their research and record. There has been at least one death in every room of 600 rooms. Most are suicides and many are leapers. But the building is also on its 14 plus floors a crime / cartel hub, with nearly constant assaults and robberies occurring. It is also on its highest floors long term Section 8 type and deposit housing. It has since changed its name and owners. Now called the Stay on Main. DON'T. You won't believe the basement deposits for mattresses etc. UGH!

    Another 1/3rd of the book centers on Elisa and her last days, including the famous video. I saw it once in that year- the week after they found her body and also just recently again on TV. My opinion is that the entire video from the 14th floor elevator has been slowed down and at least 7 seconds out of every minute is "off" in speed. I thought that from the first time I saw it before I ever read any word about Elisa Lam. So does this author guess the same thing and that's one reason why the time codes are so distorted. Who altered the video? Why?

    The other 1/3rd of the book comes in and out and is the worst in volatility for reading. Sometimes it is a 4 and sometimes nearly a one star. It does a dance around symptoms and medicines of mental illness, conspiracy web sites and theories, groups of fans of the video and websleuth witnesses and all kinds of other pertinent to our tech world when it smashes into real life crime. It bridges paranormal greatly at times, as well. This was written the worst to clarity and for what extent it would pertain to the core of the death inquiry. There are at least 2 chapters near the end that are 2 stars because they are written within mental states where the author has embedded himself in redefining and theories that are more about his "own" present mental condition and perceptions than about the case. Suffice it to say, I admire Jake Anderson, but his own estimations are not at all "the same" or logical ones. Reading them also feels like circling a grind wheel and being right back where you started. He ends up living back at home again with his parents by the ending of this particular authorship. Repeatedly this happens. He was 35 and 36 years old when this book was written.

    The photos are good. Especially upon the roof and tank arrangements. She did NOT do that entry or lift those covers by herself. I disagree with some of Jake's assumptions. Also the witness who said the cover was open when he found the floating corpse was almost surely lying. Getting paid off and disappearing is not new to the Cecil either.

    What I truly liked was the 1, 2, 3 lines of possibles for each point in the crime. In most cases and in the summation, I am always with #3. She did NOT get herself in there- I don't believe that at all.

    Regardless, you need IMMENSE patience to read this. And need to begin to understand depression and mania. And mixed states. It is NOT sadness, as most fiction work tends you to believe.

    Obviously, the crime itself was despicable. And this woman was only 21 and I think, only my opinion, was crossing a bridge to schizophrenia. That's the exact age it gets most full blown.

    But regardless, again, it wasn't just "herself". That she lost her phone and did so much inappropriate stuff the days prior to this? It made her an obvious target in such a place.

    I feel, exactly like Jake, sick to my stomach that they would have made that building entity a historic "save" property. And I'm also absolutely sure none of this would have remained as much a "mystery" if that entire huge sale wasn't going through the very day she died and those 2 days after.

    If you are a person highly interested in "eyes" of being mentally ill and not just reading, hearing about it- then I recommend this book. There is a lot, TONS of bilge to get through to grab the crux- but there are points of perception in this that NAIL it. Most of what you see on the video is a manifestation too- and that is why it went so viral perhaps?

    This took at least twice as long as a book of this length to read for me. You need to reread. The ending becomes in parts a mindmeld of Jake in spiraling self analysis. He "sees" thinks and feels much you might never deduce from the same criteria. Most of it doesn't even belong in books like this. Like his treatise length definitions or feelings of "synchronicity". Or his constant self-analysis and making himself central to the place/locale itself. This is quite unlike most books in this genre. Quite unlike. Tangents are beyond weird too, so much patience is needed to begin to follow continuity.

  • Ankit Garg

    "Gone at Midnight" by Jake Anderson is the book that covers everything concerning the mysterious death of Elisa Lam based on the information available in the public domain. And this is what I expect from a true crime book. Note that if you are already aware of all the developments that had happened in the case, this book has nothing new to offer.

    He covers the three most discussed theories in complete detail - mental illness, homicide, and paranormal activity. Given the fact that officially there

    "Gone at Midnight" by Jake Anderson is the book that covers everything concerning the mysterious death of Elisa Lam based on the information available in the public domain. And this is what I expect from a true crime book. Note that if you are already aware of all the developments that had happened in the case, this book has nothing new to offer.

    He covers the three most discussed theories in complete detail - mental illness, homicide, and paranormal activity. Given the fact that officially there is no proof of a crime being committed in this case, speculations is the most one can do. He even goes a step ahead when discussing the theories of mental illness and paranormal activity - Jake uses his own medical history of mental illness to draw conclusions, and uses his expertise to point out various paranormal angles related to the case and the Cecil.

    Many a times, especially when talking about the history of the Cecil, or the history of the police and coroner's departments, the author mentions other serial killers, or cases, or proofs of negligence. While this makes sense in order to understand the background, delving deep into all that off-topic stuff was like taking the spotlight away from the main case and the victim. A casual mention would have been enough in my opinion, it could also have acted like a hint. The curious readers will then be aware of more books or articles pertaining to those 'extra' topics.

    Thanks to the author and the publisher for the ARC.

    Verdict: One time read.

  • Tooter

    3 Stars. It was interesting but very repetitive. I skimmed through the second half to get to the end which was not satisfying. I can't knock the author's top notch writing though!

  • Tina

    First off, everything involved with this case feels creepy to me, which is a feeling that persisted while I read this book.

    Having said that, I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I read a book that held such potential, only to fall apart, almost from page 1.

    The author is literally all over the place with this story. He is in the past (when the event happened), then he goes even further back in time, then he mixes the past with his current timeline, then we are in a "what if"

    First off, everything involved with this case feels creepy to me, which is a feeling that persisted while I read this book.

    Having said that, I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I read a book that held such potential, only to fall apart, almost from page 1.

    The author is literally all over the place with this story. He is in the past (when the event happened), then he goes even further back in time, then he mixes the past with his current timeline, then we are in a "what if" scenario that may never have happened and then we are in one of his dreams and I found myself completely confused.

    He also went off on tangents all the time. Early in the book, he explains the involvement of k-9s during the search, which quickly turns into a way too long history on the use of k-9 dogs in criminal cases. Then he wanders off topic when he starts talking, again in too much detail, about serial killer Ramirez. Yes, there is some pertinence to him talking about Ramirez because he stayed at the Cecil at some point - wayyyyy before Elisa Lam was there, but all of the detailed backstory on this murderer is not necessary. If I want to read about him and his crimes, I can pick up another book.

    The other issue I had is that the author kept intermingling his own personal issues with the case and with Elisa. Yes, I know that he obviously was attracted to this case, in part because of the shared mental illness that they both suffer from. But, wow, there was way toooooo much information on the author and his personal life, that frankly, just removed from the story. He could have simply spent a paragraph explaining the shared illness and moved on. But, it was pages and pages of "I am dreaming, I am losing it, I am, I am, I am" and none of this was necessary to the story.

    The one thing that the author did very well is describe the hotel while actually staying there on two occasions. He made the whole Cecil come alive with his descriptions and he managed to convey a real sense of dread and creepiness. He could have written a whole book on the Cecil and I would have read it.

    In the end, while the author did bring up a few unknown facts, there isn't much he can do with them as absolutely nobody seems to want to investigate this further. Perhaps there is a conspiracy, but at this point, he only brings up more unanswered questions with very few chances of ever getting an answer. I am not even sure what he thinks happened.....as there are so many back and forth theories, involving so many different people and he is not really clear with what he thinks is the real story.

    Ultimately, this is a very sad book. It never needed to happen - any of it and Elisa would be back home, living her life. But it did happen and I do hope that her family and friends have managed to find some peace.

    As for this book, if you can get it at the library, go for it, otherwise.....not so much.

  • Elle Rudy

    Centered around the death of 21-year-old Elisa Lam, a Canadian student visiting Los Angeles who seemingly disappeared from the Cecil Hotel on January 31, 2013, Jake Anderson relives the utter fascination both he and the public at large had with the strange circumstances surrounding this missing persons investigation.

    I think many people who begin this book, like me, will have at least some idea how this case ends, in a sense. We know generally what happened to Elisa Lam, so is there a point in

    Centered around the death of 21-year-old Elisa Lam, a Canadian student visiting Los Angeles who seemingly disappeared from the Cecil Hotel on January 31, 2013, Jake Anderson relives the utter fascination both he and the public at large had with the strange circumstances surrounding this missing persons investigation.

    I think many people who begin this book, like me, will have at least some idea how this case ‘ends’, in a sense. We know generally what happened to Elisa Lam, so is there a point in reading in detail what befell a young woman with her whole life ahead of her? Here, Anderson is attempting to make the case that there is value in examining not only her life and death, but the way we as a true-crime-obsessed society respond to the loss of a very real person.

    I would generally agree with that assertion, but I still had trouble getting on board with this book. I don’t really think it accomplishes what it set out to do. I’m not going to spoiler tag this piece of information because I feel like at this point it’s common knowledge, but there’s no real evidence of any foul play in the case of Elisa Lam. There was a TON of speculation, which Anderson pours over in detail, even the completely batshit stuff. But the question becomes: Can you write an effective True Crime book if there was in fact no crime? I’m not so sure, and

    didn’t do much to change that impression.

    Some of the best books in this genre are ones where the author is embedded in the story. They either have a role in the investigation or are somehow connected with the people and events being investigated. The book ends up being a natural extension of their involvement, and this is a distinction I wanted to make with Anderson. He may personally

    as though he’s a part of Elisa’s case, but he is not. Countless people all over the world are drawn to particular crimes, some to the victims themselves. This doesn’t mean they have more of a claim on writing about them at length. Anderson desperately wants to be on the inside of this investigation and clearly deeply identifies with Elisa, but the narrative he’s trying to weave here falls short because, in part, he’s outside of it.

    To make up for the lack of facts he has to present the audience, Anderson seems to wander off on several tangents that have little to do with his chosen subject. Other infamous crimes are recounted to spice up a chapter or two. He fixates on elements like drones and tracking dogs which the police did not use in this case. He gives credence to the idea that there was some kind of paranormal intervention...i.e. ghosts. It makes him all the more difficult to take seriously. He also has a petty disdain for the police and investigators in this case, seemingly put-off because they wouldn’t give him, a total stranger, access to sensitive information about a woman’s death.

    I just didn’t care for this book. I wouldn’t say it’s malicious in its intent, just there’s an exploitative quality I can’t quite ignore. Anderson talks a lot about his own mental health, especially whilst reading Lam’s social media posts where she references her own. Perhaps he could have used a similar platform to compare his own struggles with hers instead of trying to commodify it.

  • Vonda

    I read everything I could find on this case years ago. It was intriguing and had quite a few unanswered questions. They were investigated and answered. This book repeats all of this over and over and nothing is new. The book is jumbled and can't stay on the timeline. I wish he had focused on her mental illness. aspect a bit more.

  • Kookie9200

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book.

    I was so excited to get this title, and immediately started reading it. Alas, I was soon disappointed to the point I couldn't even finish it.

    Let me explain. I thought I was getting a true crime book about the Elisa Lam case at the Cecil Hotel. That's the blurb that caught me. Had the book stuck with this case, I would have gladly finished it. Instead, the author started injecting his life story into the book, making it

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book.

    I was so excited to get this title, and immediately started reading it. Alas, I was soon disappointed to the point I couldn't even finish it.

    Let me explain. I thought I was getting a true crime book about the Elisa Lam case at the Cecil Hotel. That's the blurb that caught me. Had the book stuck with this case, I would have gladly finished it. Instead, the author started injecting his life story into the book, making it more about himself than Elisa. It felt as though he used her mysterious death to tell his own story, and frankly, that pissed me off enough that i stopped reading it.

    If you are looking for a factual, true crime novel, this isn't it. Instead, it's using the hype of a popular mystery for an author to tell his own story. I don't recommend it.

  • Tucker

    Elisa Lam's death was and still is one of my favorite unsolved mysteries. I am very excited to see where the authors take this!

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