Thank you so much to Celadon Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!
I am a newer true crime reader and Unmasked is interesting on many different levels. I think Paul Holes is a face/name that most Americans recognize. I was surprised at the depth in his memoir and so glad to read his book!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases
- Author: Paul Holes (with Robin Gaby Fisher)
- Publisher & Release: Celadon Books , 4/26/22
- Length: 288
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for true crime fans!
Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
From the detective who found the Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.
I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.
Crime solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession. People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I have always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.
When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.
But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy―even fatherhood―because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”
It is a promise I know I can keep
First off, it’s extremely personal. I can relate to how seeing horrible things at work kind of ruins your mind after a while. I’ve got nothing on a crime scene investigator but WOW, some of his mental and interpersonal struggles resonate. Especially when he said he was afraid of not being able to give love as others need it – right at the end – he won me over as a person too. The personal vs professional struggle for Holes is an ongoing issue even after retirement and I hope he was able to save his second family
He also wrote about some truly grisly crime scenes, things that they definitely don’t show on TV. Scraping maggots out of dead flesh, yuckkkk I would die, I can’t even imagine how anyone in the profession does it. Holes definitely doesn’t skirt over details and it always shocks me what these monsters are capable of.
The cases were fascinating too, especially how after years and years of obsession he finally tracked the Golden State Killer. I have grown up seeing some of these cases in the news and the inside look was some mix of cool and terrible. So many casualties.
Speaking of casualties – I think it’s awesome that Patton Oswalt got the featured review, that story was 💔
Lastly, there was some dense but interesting info on the progression of DNA testing and using genetics (I always wondered if those ancestry websites were an FBI DNA grab lol) to solve cases and profile killers. Interesting stuff overall.
I definitely recommend this for true crime fans and anyone interested!