Last month I read the non-fiction book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. Michelle wrote this book before the Golden State Killer was identified and unfortunately she died before the was able to finish her book. It did get published and we did a group read in the TBR and Beyond group. Today I want to tell you my thoughts about it!
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."
For 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. Then 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 TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed 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 a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. 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 by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her 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.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn, Patton Oswalt
Published by Harper on 27/02/2018
I think this an interesting cover, there is a ton of text on it! The house that’s on there seems to be in contrast or something, which gives an interesting effect. I don’t read that many non-fiction or true crime novels so I’m not sure if this is a typical type of cover for that genre. The amount of text fits the book I think, but isn’t super appealing to me, to be honest.
“I love reading true crime, but I’ve always been aware of the fact that, as a reader, I am actively choosing to be a consumer of someone else’s tragedy. So like any responsible consumer, I try to be careful in the choices I make. I read only the best: writers who are dogged, insightful, and humane.”
I’ve read this book after listening to a podcast about the Golden State Killer and after he was caught. And I think that might change the experience some what. Michelle wrote (parts of) the book before she tragically passed away. She writes about her search for the identity of the Golden State Killer and her start with true crime obsessions. The book is put together from the chapters she finished, her notes and both an introduction and an afterword.
When I started reading the book I didn’t really read any reviews or the synopsis. All I knew was that it was about GSK and that Michelle passed away. And I think for this book it’s good to know a little bit more. Because I was not getting what I was expecting at all. Sometimes that’s a good thing, other times it might be a little bit disappointing. And I think here it was a bit of both.
“He loses his power when we know his face.”
This book is mainly about Michelle’s search. And not so much about the actual crimes. The book is not told chronologically and I think that made it a bit harder to understand. Since I already listened to a podcast about the GSK and his crimes, I was able to follow along and put the crimes on a mental time line. But it was still hard to keep it all straight in my mind and that took away from my enjoyment. If you know nothing about these crimes, I don’t think you’ll be able to get a good understanding after reading this book.
Michelle did do a great job of talking about the victims. She portrayed them really well and I think she absolutely did them justice. I’m also in awe of the time and effort she put into her search. The book calls it an obsessive search and I think that’s the only way to describe it. It was interesting to read about this search and Michelle’s life in general. But it was not really what I was expecting when I went into the book.
Gillian Flynn wrote the introduction and I think she did a great job. I’m also a big fan of her work so I liked listening to her introduction a lot. Patton Oswald wrote the afterword, he is Michelle’s husband and was absolutely heartbroken by her death. It is through his persistence that this book was published and his afterword is beautiful. I’m so happy I listened to the audiobook for this one!
I think the enjoyment of this book completely depends on what you are looking for and what you expect to find in this book. If you want a good and clear true crime story about the GSK, I don’t think this will be the book for you. But if you just want to read about this woman’s search, her interest in this case, and some really well written information about some of the victims, this just might be the book for you!
While I ended up enjoying the book, it wasn’t completely what I was hoping for and that did take away some of the enjoyment. I also think it might have been written better if Michelle was able to finish the whole book. Still, I’m happy I read it and I might pick up more true crime books after this.