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I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Hardcover – February 27, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of March 2018: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara’s compelling investigation of the “Golden State Killer,” who terrorized northern California from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, is one of the best true crime books to come along in a decade. It’s the story of two obsessions: McNamara’s obsession with the criminal, and whatever abhorrent obsession drove him to commit a series of horrific rapes and murders over ten years. The author, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, describes the crimes and examines clues in an effort to uncover his identity. Occasionally, she challenges convention by inserting herself into the narrative (at one point, she even writes directly to the Golden State Killer), and the book acquires even more personal weight when one takes into account the fact that McNamara, at the age of 46, died while writing it. Knowing all of this, and with each chilling description, McNamara’s obsession begins to become our own. She believed that the Golden State Killer would still be alive today. You will discover yourself hoping she’s right, so that you can see him captured and brought to justice. -- Chris Schluep, the Amazon Book Review
“Unputdownable.... Powerful.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air)
“A singular, fascinating read. It’s lifelike in its incompletion... a posthumous treasure that feels thrillingly alive. A-” (Entertainment Weekly)
“What makes McNamara’s work so compelling is her empathy and sensitivity toward the people touched by these crimes.... I wish I could read the next 10 books she would have written.” (Kate Tuttle, Los Angeles Times)
“What readers need to know—what makes this book so special—is that it deals with two obsessions, one light and one dark. The Golden State Killer is the dark half; Michelle McNamara’s is the light half. It’s a journey into two minds, one sick and disordered, the other intelligent and determined. I loved this book.” (Stephen King)
“Both a vivid and meticulous investigation of a twisted predator who terrorized quiet, upper middle-class communities in California for nearly a decade, and a wrenching personal account from a writer who became consumed by her subject.” (New York Times)
“This book just knocked me over.” (Megan Abbott)
“Utterly gripping.” (People)
“A powerful portrait of the scale of the Golden State Killer’s crimes, of the mechanics of criminal investigations, of the strange particular dread and paranoia in the California in the 1970s, and of McNamara’s own obsession with violent men, and this one violent man.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Breathtaking, ambitious, and exquisitely written.” (New York)
“Michelle McNamara was an obsessive. She was also a damn good writer. That combustive mix has produced I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a dark page-turner.... Scintillating.” (USA Today )
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The subject is a serial rapist and murderer, who committed crimes from the 1970s through 1980s. Police and FBI agents tracked the case from city to city and once DNA testing came to be, it was confirmed that the crimes were in fact all committed by one person, however he still eluded them.
McNamara was determined to understand who he was, to find him. She immersed herself in each case. With each law enforcement officer. They welcomed her. She was one of them. Her research is staggering.
Even if you are used to reading terrifying details that accompany true crime, this is one that you will need to brace yourself for. It is not easy to read. It is haunting. The crimes that the Golden State Killer committed are beyond sadistic, truly the actions of a disturbed mind. There were times that I thought about putting the book down. I wasn’t sure I could finish it. It wasn’t about what he did that intrigued me, it was about what the author was doing to find him.
That Oswalt lost his wife and was grieving, that their young daughter was left without a mother (he has since recently remarried) but he was able to take his wife’s work and put her book out in the world is nothing short of incredible. As he said: “I wanted to do right by her.”
I'm not a huge fan of the true crime genre, exactly. I've enjoyed a true crime novel now and then, but it isn't a genre I reach for often. But that said, I know the transformative power of a truly well-written crime book. Truman Capote's In True Blood introduced me to the narrative non-fiction genre, and it completely changed my life. I'll Be Gone in the Dark is the same kind of transformative book. It is the kind of genre-busting, heart-breaking, world-shaking book that will introduce a whole new generation of readers to the power of non-fiction done well.
Not only does the pitch-perfect pace grab the reader by the wrist and pull them breathlessly along, but the book walks the line between memoir and true crime in a way that has never been done so flawlessly before. McNamara takes the reader on an emotional journal that is at times shocking, entertaining, joyful and devastating.
I don't care if you are into true crime... you need to grab this book and set aside a day to wrap yourself up in its story obsession - both good and bad.
This is not your normal true crime book. Those books have already been written and this fact is addressed by Michelle numerous times. This book is about Michelle's time spent researching this case. So, of course, this book jumps around because it follows her and her research. She started this as notes for her website or podcast, and it grew from something she happened upon to something that she couldn't stop focusing on. She is a beautiful writer, and I was drawn into the story from the first page. The portions about her, including her childhood, at times feel like the reprieve from the darkness they were meant to be, but are not any less interesting. I would read an entire book about the crime she referenced from her childhood. That brings me to why this book was at times hard to read, besides the obvious darkness of the subject matter. Many times when I'm reading, I find myself pausing to buy everything else the author has written. Of course that is not possible here, and many times while reading I thought about her family and friends and what a horrible loss they have suffered.
I highly recommend this book to any lover of true crime. SSDGM