Friday, February 9, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
HarperCollins Publishers: 2/27/18
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062319784

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara is a very highly recommended true crime account of the serial rapist and killer who was responsible for fifty sexual assaults and at least ten murders in California during the 1970s and '80s.

Michelle McNamara was a true crime journalist who created the popular website She started writing about the predator she called "The Golden State Killer" in 2011. At that time DNA testing had already linked the cases to one unknown man. The man began as a serial rapist in the 1970s before changing his M.O. and began murdering couples. McNamara was determined to sift through the thousands of pieces of evidence from over fifty-five crime scenes to try and unmask the identity of the violent psychopath. She poured over reports interviewed victims, and actively immersed herself in the online community of true crime enthusiasts.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark offers insights into the assaults and the alarming steps the killer took in selecting his victims and raping them in their homes in Northern California. She also points out the trigger in 1979 that caused him to move his territory to the south where he escalated to attacking and killing couples. It is also a picture of the time in which the crimes were committed, which in some ways abetted his ability to elude capture by multiple police forces. With all the current ability to cross reference details, check DNA, and work simultaneously with multiple agencies and people, this psychopath may finally be caught.

Alongside the discovery of new information (or connecting the dots of existing information) about the cold cases, McNamara includes personal autobiographical information about her life. It brings a humanity to the reporting and the facts of the cases. We can see how diligently she was working through the police reports, trying to puzzle-out the killer's identity. We know she often worked late at night, while her family slept.

Tragically, Michelle McNamara passed away in her sleep at age forty-six before she could put the finishing details on the book, but the masterful work was brought to completion by her editor, a colleague, and her lead researcher. The sections that McNamara was working on are extremely well-written and highlight her daily life alongside her research and obsession with the details of the crimes and her empathy for the victims and their families. While the flow of her investigation isn't completely seamless, the sections McNamara wrote are full of compassion and a resolve to discover the truth. Hopefully the evidence she has gathered will help uncover the identity of the killer.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

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