I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Introduction by Gillian FlynnAfterword by Patton OswaltA 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,...

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Title:I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Author:Michelle McNamara
Rating:

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Reviews

  • viktoria

    Confession: I'm what you would call a murderino.

    I listen to My Favorite Murder religiously, I watch the hell out of Investigation Discovery (City Confidential is amazing), and I listen to a few other podcasts. Sadly, I never read Michelle McNamara's work until after her death. After reading a few articles, I saved reading the rest until after I read this book.

    I'm going to try not to fangirl all over the place, but this was stunningly amazing.

    It was such a personal story. McNamara shared so mu

    Confession: I'm what you would call a murderino.

    I listen to My Favorite Murder religiously, I watch the hell out of Investigation Discovery (City Confidential is amazing), and I listen to a few other podcasts. Sadly, I never read Michelle McNamara's work until after her death. After reading a few articles, I saved reading the rest until after I read this book.

    I'm going to try not to fangirl all over the place, but this was stunningly amazing.

    It was such a personal story. McNamara shared so much of herself in this book without overwhelming it, and you really feel her dedication in the text. Her personal touch helps distract from the dehumanizing brutality of the crime very effectively. In a weird way, I almost felt like I had gained a friend during the book, like I was in the car driving with her or scanning through text-filled databases in the middle of the night, too, and that's a difficult feeling to evoke, especially in this genre.

    Likewise, the story focuses on the many of detectives (both law enforcement and less official sleuths) who worked the case and the victims as much as it does the killer. While you get to know McNamara and her story, you also get to know the generations of detectives and their tenacity, frustration, heartbreak, and courage. The suspense builds and falls as the investigators chase leads, then stall, and all the while, you hope for the big break in a way they've learned to not bet on so earnestly.

    The ending, however, is a little bittersweet. You know going in that the GSK remains uncaught and about McNamara's death, but both still hit me hard. Yet, throughout both McNamara's text and the ending by follow-up authors, there's an unwavering conviction that they'll catch the responsible one day, and when I finished the final page, that sense of resolve was the strongest emotion I felt.

    A few random things I loved worth mentioning:

    1. McNamara's unmistakable empathy for the victims, the detectives and LEOs, and the communities;

    2. She was never gratuitous describing the rapes or murders, yet she didn't sacrifice attention to detail or suspense;

    3. Likewise, she acknowledged the complexity of the crime and how difficult it's to catch the GSK because of it, but never festishized him, either.

    4. (This might sound weird, but I've heard and read some accounts where they make rape sound like erotica or it's uncomfortably detailed and you want to throw the book across the room and clean it in bleach);

    5. She had such truly excellent, beautiful, and suspenseful writing.

    : Seriously, I'll Be Gone in the Dark shows such exceptional, suspenseful writing and beautiful dedication. I cried at the end in the best of ways.

    : Of course, when I have four freaking books with a holds list that I have

    to read, you, my beautiful love, come into my life, after I've been pining after you for

    . You're only the book I've been most looking forward to ALL YEAR.

  • Robin

    I read this with my heart in my mouth, not only because of the sinister topic of a serial rapist/killer who has never been named, but also because the author died while researching and writing the book. However, NcNamara and her follow-up authors did an excellent job of investigating these heinous crimes that took place over thirty years ago, and then writing and constructing a narrative that will not only chill your bones but cause a few sleepless nights.

    I was tempted to compare this to the ex

    I read this with my heart in my mouth, not only because of the sinister topic of a serial rapist/killer who has never been named, but also because the author died while researching and writing the book. However, NcNamara and her follow-up authors did an excellent job of investigating these heinous crimes that took place over thirty years ago, and then writing and constructing a narrative that will not only chill your bones but cause a few sleepless nights.

    I was tempted to compare this to the excellent true crime books by Ann Rule but Michelle McNamara has her own compassionate voice, and even though we know from the start that the killer's identity never been discovered, the reader will not be able to put this down. And the last chapter is perfection. Fingers crossed this book causes more information to be disclosed so the killer is found and brought to justice. This book has blockbuster written all over it.

    For another compelling report on an unsolved crime, read

    , and for another excellent personal narrative of crime, try

    .

    Thanks to the publisher for a very early reading copy.

  • Cynthia

    Excellent true crime.

  • Megan Abbott

    I've been waiting for this book for a long time, having been a fan of McNamara's True Crime Diary blog (

    ). While she hadn't finished it before her death, it is a remarkable book--both in terms of its investigative power and its superb, precise prose (and an excellent intro by Gillian Flynn and a poignant afterword by Patton Oswalt). But what makes it so special is how it becomes this living testament to the drive, strength and power of its author, a portrait of how h

    I've been waiting for this book for a long time, having been a fan of McNamara's True Crime Diary blog (

    ). While she hadn't finished it before her death, it is a remarkable book--both in terms of its investigative power and its superb, precise prose (and an excellent intro by Gillian Flynn and a poignant afterword by Patton Oswalt). But what makes it so special is how it becomes this living testament to the drive, strength and power of its author, a portrait of how her ample mind operated, and how her heart interpreted. And for all of us who loved true crime from a similarly young age and for whom the fascination has never left, it feels like a lovesong from a fellow pilgrim.

    Don't miss it.

  • Shannon A

    One of the most passionate investigations of one of the darkest times in American History; I could not put this book down. The dedication found within these pages to follow leads that end up hitting walls gives the reader insight into how one faceless man and his actions can haunt not only the victims, but those that hunt for the clues that will one day lead to justice.

    A book that will have you looking over your shoulder, and not quite able to sleep as peacefully as before you read it; but full

    One of the most passionate investigations of one of the darkest times in American History; I could not put this book down. The dedication found within these pages to follow leads that end up hitting walls gives the reader insight into how one faceless man and his actions can haunt not only the victims, but those that hunt for the clues that will one day lead to justice.

    A book that will have you looking over your shoulder, and not quite able to sleep as peacefully as before you read it; but full of hope because: This book is the flash in the darkness that has shed light on the face of a killer.

    Hope this review does Michelle's work justice.

  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)

    Full review here:

    For anyone interested in true crime, Michelle's name is one that is sure to strike a chord. Most people have a specific, memorable event that made them interested in true crime (if you're a murderino, you'll be quite familiar with the term "hometown") and there's always that defining moment that you can look back on and say, that was it, for me. I was bit and I never looked back.

    True crime is like that. It is kind of all or nothing, not

    Full review here:

    For anyone interested in true crime, Michelle's name is one that is sure to strike a chord. Most people have a specific, memorable event that made them interested in true crime (if you're a murderino, you'll be quite familiar with the term "hometown") and there's always that defining moment that you can look back on and say, that was it, for me. I was bit and I never looked back.

    True crime is like that. It is kind of all or nothing, not really a dabbling kind of interest. It isn't just that Michelle McNamara had a blog (True Crime Diary), any old fool can do that (myself included), it was the way she devoted everything she had to a case that shockingly continues to go unsolved.

    The people who are into true crime know their stuff and usually there is one case that got away. for Michelle, this is that case.

    The insidious man dubbed the Golden State Killer by McNamara is not one to go into lightly. It will eat at you, get into your heart, have you keeping the lights on, staying up at night, scouring the internet, and also, on a lighter note, getting to know Michelle, an undeterred and completely unrelenting force of vitality in filling in all the blank spaces of this case.

    This story is a touching tribute to a life devoted to a catching a killer. At the same time it is devastatingly heartbreaking, because Michelle did not get the chance to complete her quest. This book was not finished; the monster has not been found.

    Some places in the narrative her absence is cruelly felt and I could sense where there could have been more, there must have been more that she was saving or would have written later. But Michelle never got the chance, having passed away unexpected in her sleep in 2016 at the age of 46.

    Despite that, I can't recommend this book more highly. To fans of true crime, justice, and humanity.

    My thanks to Faber & Faber for providing me with an advance copy of this title.

  • KC

    The Golden State Killer has never been identified. He terrorized a California community from the late 1970's to the late 1980's, had committed over 50 sexual assaults, and 10 sadistic murders. Since then, numerous law enforcement officers, theorists, and crime reporters have all had a go at this elusive criminal. True Crime Journalist, Michelle McNamara had made it her life's work to gather, collect, interview, and compile all that she could to bring us this chilling account of the crimes carrie

    The Golden State Killer has never been identified. He terrorized a California community from the late 1970's to the late 1980's, had committed over 50 sexual assaults, and 10 sadistic murders. Since then, numerous law enforcement officers, theorists, and crime reporters have all had a go at this elusive criminal. True Crime Journalist, Michelle McNamara had made it her life's work to gather, collect, interview, and compile all that she could to bring us this chilling account of the crimes carried out by this horrifying predator... Unfortunately, Michelle died suddenly while in the middle of writing this novel. With the help of her colleagues, this tale has come together with agonizing details. Her professionalism, prose, and precision have made this story so frightening that one must be in the company of others while reading it. Her expression is reminiscent of Joe McGinniss.

  • Krista

    I read a lot of true crime in my early twenties in an effort, I suppose, to “understand the human condition”. As I matured, I began to recognise the prurient nature of my interest; began to realise that behind every

    I read a lot of true crime in my early twenties in an effort, I suppose, to “understand the human condition”. As I matured, I began to recognise the prurient nature of my interest; began to realise that behind every pseudonymous victim on the page stood a real and suffering person, and no longer feeling good about my self-perceived voyeurism, I moved on to other interests.

    true crime – detailing the evil acts of a man who raped over fifty victims and killed a further ten between 1976 and 1986 across California – but author Michelle McNamara elevates the material beyond the merely salacious; there is humanity on these pages (that of the victims, the investigators, as well as the author's own), and the book offers the prospect of finally capturing the Golden State Killer by shining a light in the corners where such a cockroach might yet be hiding. I wouldn't call this an “enjoyable” read – there is unvarnished horror here – but it does feel essential. (Caveat: I read from an ARC and quotes might not be in their final forms.)

    is really two stories in one, detailing both the Golden State Killer's crimes and the author's own reasons for pursuing this story. As a result, the wealth of autobiographical information serves as a memoir for McNamara: from her childhood in Chicago and her relationship with her parents there, to her attempts to find balance between obsessive online/in-person sleuthing and her family's needs, to the report of her sudden

    during the writing of this book. The passing of McNamara at so young an age adds poignancy to the project, and it can't help but nudge readers towards understanding the author's intent – to finally

    California's most prolific, yet underpublicised, serial killer – and that helps to elevate this beyond the merely prurient: There is evidence that McNamara has reinvigorated the investigation in this cold case and hopefully the GSK will eventually,

    , be brought to justice. (In both the online version of the original article that led to this book,

    , and McNamara's own blog,

    , there are discussion boards in which others can join in the investigation; who knows what such crowdsourcing will uncover?

    knows this guy, even if he's long dead himself.)

    Okay, I've only focused so far on the author, but

    does also outline every attack and piece of evidence linked to the GSK; it is graphic without being gratuitous, which must be a tough line to walk; McNamara handles this expertly. With an introduction by Gillian Flynn, a third section of evidence added by McNamara's fellow researchers after her death, and an Afterword by McNamara's husband (comedian Patton Oswalt, whose Netflix special Annihilation deals in part with his wife's passing and the year following; I laughed and cried watching it last night), the entirety of this book is a unique and

    read; it just might lead to justice.

  • Tammy

    This one didn’t quite do it for me. I found the story interesting because I knew absolutely nothing about this killer that got away (not a spoiler). The development of the methodologies to apprehend criminals was fascinating and many of the terms are commonplace today. It’s an uneven book and I found myself mentally re-writing sentences for clarity. The messy sentences (in places) may be the result of piecing together a book from the deceased author’s notes and trying to retain her voice. It’s w

    This one didn’t quite do it for me. I found the story interesting because I knew absolutely nothing about this killer that got away (not a spoiler). The development of the methodologies to apprehend criminals was fascinating and many of the terms are commonplace today. It’s an uneven book and I found myself mentally re-writing sentences for clarity. The messy sentences (in places) may be the result of piecing together a book from the deceased author’s notes and trying to retain her voice. It’s worth reading if you are a fan of true crime.

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