Let me start this off by saying I have no idea who the Golden State Killer is…. was…. and I still don’t know much about him as a person after reading I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara but my lord… the writing… the research. I found myself rushing home after work, or finishing what I needed to do around the house quickly in order to pick this book up and find out what the hell happened.
A criminal is more vulnerable in his history than his futureDavid Canter, British Crime Pyschologist
The key to solving a series of crimes is to find out what happened before the first crime rather than establish where the offender went after the most recent one.
Recently, somehow, I got sucked into the True Crime vortex. I blame Netflix and it’s first true crime documentary, Making A Murderer. Which eventually spun into the follow up series, which then suggested I watch (in no particular order) The Confession Tapes, Amanda Knox, The Staircase, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Evil Genius, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. The same time I ran out of True Crime stories on Netflix I discovered the television channel, HLN… and the show Very Scary People. It’s astonishing the horrific things that happen to people.
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark has been on my TBR for awhile. Reading True Crime has never really been my thing. (I read a lot of mysteries as a kid and as an adult never found it interesting to read a few hundred pages and know before the end who did it and why). I figured I would get around to I’ll Be Gone in The Dark at some point and when I did it would be on audiobook. I really did not think I could actually read the book. Listening to the story would probably be easier for me. Then one afternoon I got an email from the local library’s book club announcing that I’ll Be Gone in The Dark would be their book for June and there were more than enough copies throughout the library district available. Here is my chance I thought. I’ve been wanting to join the book club and have spent the last six months waiting for a book I actually wanted to read to come up. So I reserved the book and figured it would take me all of the three weeks to actually read it… man, was I wrong.
I read I’ll Be Gone in The Dark in five days. That is pretty unheard of for me in the last few years. (It would have been less if I did not have adult things to do)
The introduction was by Gillian Flynn, which was not all that impressive to me since I’ve only read one of her books. Never the less, it was beautifully written. You could tell Flynn was familiar with McNamara and admired her work. For those unfamiliar with McNamara and her popular blog, True Crime Diary, we learn that Michelle has actually passed away which in itself is sad because you realize she never got to see the Golden State Killer captured.
The book is broken down into three parts. Part One: the reader learns how the crimes committed by the Golden State Killer. Part Two: the reader starts to see McNamara trying to connect the dots; conducting her own investigation. Part Three is written by two of McNamara’s “fellow investigators” and they pieced all of Michelle’s work together.
The amount of research that was conducted is UNBELIEVABLE for someone who had no connection to the offender or the victims. To think that McNamara did all of this out of pure and honest interest is astonishing. It makes me wish I had something I was that passionate about.
The “cast of characters” in this book is extensive. Between the years of 1976 and 1979, this man assaulted 50 women across seven counties. From 1979 to 1986 he was murdering people. The number of people listed not including actual Police investigators on the case was hard to keep track of. There is a cheat sheet in the front of the book but after awhile I think you just get used to it.
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark is a more a book about the author being able to piece everything together then about the actual serial killer which on the surface does not seem that interesting. But it truly is amazing what this woman was able to accomplish. What someone not connected to anyone, or anything, was able to pull off. My understanding is her writing was a big help to getting the actual murderer caught.
I think anyone who has any interest in this book will find it riveting. Personally, I am more interested in the WHY then the connected dots. I am more curious about what brings a person to do the heinous things they do.
Even though knowing the why, I don’t think his name was even mentioned (I remember googling it after I finished it); the book was hypnotizing. I found myself rooting for McNamara. Hoping she connected the dots to answer her own questions.