Book Review: A Beautiful Child by Matt Birkbeck
It was such a pleasure to meet Matt Birkbeck, an award-winning investigative reporter the night before last at his author event. He spoke to the audience about the intricacies connected to investigative writing, especially when dealing with a case that has virtually gone cold, much like that of Sharon Marshall.
“Sharon Marshall was a brilliant and beautiful student whose future was filled with promise—until her murderous, fugitive father drew her into a lifetime of deception that became one of the most baffling cases in the annals of American true crime.
A student at Forest Park High School near Atlanta, Georgia, popular blonde-haired Sharon Marshall was at the top of her class. Serving as a Lt. Colonel in the ROTC, she earned a full scholarship to Georgia Tech University to study aerospace engineering. She was the ultimate girl next door, sweet, generous, and well-adjusted. But Sharon had disturbing secrets so shocking and unique, they took more than a decade to unravel...
This is the horrifying true story of a mysterious young woman caught in the violent web of the murderous fugitive she called her father—and a heart-rending testament to the profound courage and perseverance of one woman trapped in the grip of extreme evil.”
Nevertheless, after many years, extensive research, countless interviews, unfortunate false leads, and plain hard work, Birkbeck prevailed in helping to discover the identity of a young woman, dubbed Sharon, who had been kidnapped as a toddler and later viciously murdered.
Birkbeck details the case in his book, A Beautiful Child, with clear and concise information, allowing the reader an intimate understanding as to how such at crime was able to manifest, and how her tormentor, Franklin Delano Floyd, could continue his reign of terror undiscovered. Absolutely chilling.
It is important to note that during the time of Sharon's burial, her real identity remained a mystery, so her friends naturally put the name she went by on her headstone. Today, however, her real name is on her headstone–owed to the relentless efforts of people like Matt Birkbeck and other good people, unwilling to let Sharon’s real name and life story remain a mystery forever. Finding Sharon is the conclusion to The Beautiful Child. The second book unravels the law enforcement end of this mystery, revealing how the FBI conducted their case.
While certainly a provocative and fascinating case in hindsight, it was also deeply troubling to read about this young woman’s torturous life and subsequent death. From all accounts, people who knew her said 'Sharon' was a kind and generous soul who, despite the many hardships and challenges, never stopped reaching out to help others. Even in death, her humanity defined her.
For True Crime readers–this is story you won't want to pass up.
About the Author
Matt Birkbeck is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of The Quiet Don, Deconstructing Sammy, and A Beautiful Child. His work has been featured in a host of publications including Reader’s Digest, Playboy, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and People magazine. He has appeared on a variety of network and cable news programs, including CNN, ABC’s 20/20, NBC, CBS, and Investigation Discovery, among others, and was celebrated by the New York Times Book Review for his “killer leads, gripping kickers, and sensational descriptions.” Amazon