The Book of Atlantis Black

The Search for a Sister Gone Missing

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An NPR Best Book of the Year

A Vanity Fair Best Summer Read

“A haunting, mind-bending memoir. . . . riveting.” —New York Times

“A mixture of biography and true crime, this narrative . . . offers more plot twists, shocking revelations and shady characters than most contemporary thrillers.” —NPR

The Book of Atlantis Black will have you questioning facts, rooting for secrets, and asking what it means to know the truth.

A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads “Atlantis Black.” The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed.

So begins Betsy Bonner’s search for her sister, Atlantis, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before Atlantis’s disappearance, alleged overdose, and death. With access to her sister’s email and social media accounts, Bonner attempts to decipher and construct a narrative: frantic and unintelligible Facebook posts, alarming images of a woman with a handgun, Craigslist companionship ads, DEA agent testimony, video surveillance, police reports, and various phone calls and moments in the flesh conjured from memory. Through a history only she and Atlantis shared—a childhood fraught with abuse and mental illness, Atlantis’s precocious yet short rise in the music world, and through it all an unshakable bond of sisterhood—Bonner finds questions that lead only to more questions and possible clues that seem to point in no particular direction. In this haunting memoir and piercing true crime account, Bonner must decide how far she will go to understand a sister who, like the mythical island she renamed herself for, might prove impossible to find.


  • Haunting, mind-bending. . . . A wrenching portrait.

    —The New York Times Book Review

  • Gripping. . . . Betsy Bonner is the storyteller, but Atlantis Black is the story, the mystery, the victim, sometimes the perpetrator and always the question.


  • Evocative. . . . Bonner manages to create something richer than a real-life whodunnit.

    —Split Lip Magazine

  • You’ll read it in one sitting.


  • A haunting, profound investigative memoir that will resonate with readers as both a compelling true crime story and an affecting literary work.

    —Library Journal, Starred Review

  • Part exorcism and part adoring tribute, The Book of Atlantis Black is deeply haunting and darkly fascinating.

    —BookPage, Starred Review

  • Lyrical and compelling.


  • Carefully crafted, haunting, and absorbing, this thrilling memoir echoes in the head and heart long after the final page.

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Maddening and fascinating. The reader is made to feel what it’s like to be denied answers in an essential search.

    —Amy Hempel, author of Sing To It

  • This memoir is as haunting, as memorable, and as magnetic as the tragic young woman at its core. I tore through it at lightning speed but I also didn’t want it to end.

    —Amanda Fortini

  • Betsy Bonner writes with the precision of a poet and the courage of a survivor. I could not put this book down.

    —Domenica Ruta, author of Last Day

  • An unforgettable portrait of an impossible yet compelling young woman taken down by her own demons, and fighting every step of the way.

    —David Gates, author of A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

  • Betsy Bonner has crafted a terse, urgent page-turner that is equally ode, elegy, and mystery.

    —Chelsey Johnson, author of Stray City

  • Suspenseful and beautiful. . . . I’m speechless.

    —Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl

  • Compelling.

    —What's Nonfiction

  • A cooly rendered look at the devastation of survivor’s guilt and other ways people unravel in the wake of tragedy.

    —Vanity Fair