Book Review

I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara

Rating: 5 / 5

Keeping the Nonfiction November momentum going, I scanned my shelves for a book to pick up during a recent readathon and came across this one. I had originally picked it up for a reading challenge prompt over the summer that I just didn’t get to (doing ALL the prompts in a single month was a TAD bit over ambitious), but I’ve heard amazing things about this one so still wanted to read it! I wasn’t wowed by my other true crime read recently, so I was a little wary about this one, but I need not have worried.

I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara is the author’s account of the Golden State Killer (so named by Michelle McNamara). This man terrorized the people of California, committing first fifty sexual assaults, soon escalating to murder. Starting in 1976, he committed his crimes over several years and then mysteriously stopped, escaping identification until very recently.

Michelle McNamara devoted much of her life to this investigation. She spent countless hours researching reports from multiple police forces, interviewing victims and witnesses and spent time in online communities devoted to investigating cold cases. Over the years of her investigation she found leads not yet identified by police, often working alongside investigators to prove or disprove different theories.

As if the story being told isn’t tragic enough, Michelle McNamara was in the midst of writing I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK when she died unexpectedly before finishing. Her family and her the people she worked with were determined to bring the book through to the end. The culprit was actually arrested just as the book was being published and while there is some debate as to how much direct impact Michelle McNamara’s investigation had on his capture, there is no doubt that her efforts kept the investigation front and center in people’s minds even as the case got colder and colder.

The writing in this book is exceptionally well done. McNamara really evokes the sense of fear that so many in California felt during the Golden State Killer’s spree. This was a man who took his time to observe his intended victims, peeping in windows and observing daily life to know just when to strike. Michelle’s promise to the perpetrator that he would be caught is beautiful and haunting! Knowing some of the landmarks discussed where his hunts occurred also brought this one closer to home for me!

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