Hey, I finally read this book. (Synopsis & publication facts at the end). I’ve wanted to read it since it came out but what finally pushed me to slide it into my TBR stack was (sigh) Paul Holes’ book, which spoke even more highly of Mcnamara and her journalism related to the Golden State Killer case as well as her as a person. I think pretty much everyone in America either knew McNamara from the red carpet or from looking at TrueCrimeDiary at one point or another in their lives. She was a phenomenal journalist and her death is one of the many things I file under the “damn shame” department.
I think what I took home from this was that she essentially joined the ranks of cold case detectives and kept America interested in the GSK. Did the book help catch the killer? Well – probably not, but she gave so many victims a name and a story for those who didn’t know. One of many sad parts, besides that she died at 49, was that she unfortunately missed – literally the same day that Patton Oswalt & co finally launched this book – the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo.
Yeah, this is a wonderfully put together and legible account of his victims, comprehensive across multiple precincts, and gave a wide account of interdepartmental politics as well as big picture ideas about the case. It also put us into victim’s shoes in a chilling look at DeAngelo’s crimes and methods. McNamara had a knack for building reader’s interest by putting out facts and letting her audience play sleuth, which is absolutely part of the appeal of the true crime genre and her writing in particular
For a book about a killer that wasn’t yet caught at the time, this book was amazing. The mere fact that her researcher was able to piecemeal edit thousands of pages of notes to complete the unfinished chapters was equally amazing, and so is the fact that without the editor’s notes, it would have been impossible to tell who wrote what. I believe the later edition included the afterword by Oswalt.
Long story short, yes I would definitely check this out if you have absolutely any interest in true crime, the Golden State Killer, or McNamara’s life, as this was also in some large part her autobiography. I loved the many human touches she added to the pages to look into the psychology of both the “armchair detective” and those who became legit assets to the case. I think this book deserves every single award it’s won. Go read it!
Here’s the synopsis from the back cover:
A masterful true-crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case
“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark”.
Over the course of more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. In 1986 he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true-crime journalist who created the popular website True Crime Diary, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, inter-viewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing his victims—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their homes when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layouts. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction from Gillian Flynn and an afterword by McNamara’s husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true-crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
- Author: Michelle McNamara
- Publisher & Release: Harper, 2018
- Pages: 352 including illustrations
- Rating: I mean, it has to be 5 stars for everyone involved in this book’s publication