I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
HarperCollins Publishers: 2/27/18
eBook review copy; 352 pages
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 TrueCrimeDiary.com. 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
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.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.