Review: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Review: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamaraI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn, Patton Oswalt, Paul Haynes, Billy Jensen
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 328
Published by Harper on February 27, 2018
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime

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, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." McNamara 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 McNamara'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.

What is there to say about this book that hasn’t already been stated about a million times. Pieced together by loved ones after the death of Michelle McNamara in April 2016. Since I’ve been a little neglectful of my reviews I’m going to bullet point what I loved about this book below.

  • McNamara’s empathy for the victims, detectives and law enforcement and the communities affected by the EAR/Golden State Killer was genuine and brought life to the words of this book. She was never gratuitous in describing the rapes or murders and yet she never sacrificed attention to detail or suspense;
  • Her voice was haunting – I started reading this book a night while my husband snoozed next to me and I had to stop and bring it to work to read in the daytime and light. I’ve never read another true crime author like her and I don’t think I ever will. There is usually a disconnect in reading or researching about crimes and victims where I can hardly imagine what those moments feel like. McNamara put you right there with the victims, detectives and communities;
  • She knew the complexity of this crime and why it’s been so difficult to catch the Golden State Killer but never fetishized him. This is such a crucial point for the true crime genre. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was such an exceptional work that illustrated McNamara’s suspensive and brilliant writing and tiresome dedication to the investigation. I didn’t want this journey to end but it did in the best way – I was almost finished with this book when news broke about the arrest. 

If you haven’t picked up your copy – do so immediately. Well worth the price!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.