I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
by Michelle McNamara
read in September 2018
This is a spoiler-free review!
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.
When I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was released, my father instantly recommended it to me. He never reads books and none of my Goodreads friends had read it yet, so I initially wasn’t that interested in it. However, as time went on, my love for true crime rekindled and when the Golden State Killer was finally caught, I knew I had to pick up this book.
Despite the average reviews from the people I know, I was incredibly excited to start reading this. In August, when I couldn’t listen to anymore audiobooks, I decided to try the My Favorite Murder podcast. I fell in love with it and they mention Michelle McNamara several times. I had to start the audiobook as soon as it became available for me!
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark‘s subtitle is “One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” and that’s definitely what this is about. Michelle doesn’t uncover who the Golden State Killer is, but she does shed light on a horrifying rapist and murderer in a detailed and respectful way. By the end, I was obsessed as well.
Immediately after finishing it, I wanted to know as much as I could about the suspect who was arrested and charged only a few months ago. Sadly, not much is known about him. What made him stop? Was he ever a suspect before, or did this come out of the blue for the investigators? I have so many questions!!
This book offers a very detailed account of the Golden State Killer’s crimes, inserted with some biographical elements: it’s not just about the killer, it’s also about Michelle’s search and obsession. I listened to the audiobook and the narration was very good. Unfortunately, however, it was difficult to keep track of the numerous locations, victims and investigators. Additionally, it’s not told in chronological order, which was confusing.
Though I admire Michelle for shedding light on this monster in a way that respects the victims, the order of the book could’ve been better. Perhaps a physical copy or e-book would’ve been a better format.
content and trigger warnings for rape (detailed descriptions), murder (detailed descriptions), misuse of ‘tribe’ and ‘native’ (unchallenged)
If you love true crime and want to know more about this serial rapist and killer, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is definitely a worthy read. The order of the information was confusing, but Michelle’s research was very detailed and respectful, so I’d still recommend it.
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