Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Summary: “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will undoubtedly be stocked in the True Crime section, which is fine, but in so many ways it’s a brilliant genre-buster. It’s propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading, which makes it all too easy to ignore the clean and focused writing.

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 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." Michelle 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 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. -- Harper

When I was in high school and college, I couldn't get enough of true crime books. It doesn't seem like they are quite as popular now or maybe my reading tastes have just changed, but I was so excited to see the buzz for I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK: ONE WOMAN'S OBSESSIVE SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER by Michelle McNamara. I had first heard about this author (and her quest to find the killer) almost two years ago when she unexpectedly died. It was a relatively big story because she was so young and married to the actor/comedian Patton Oswalt.

I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK tells her story about the exhaustive search Ms. McNamara conducted to find the Golden State Killer. It's been almost thirty years since this man wreaked havoc on California -- first raping and then killing for almost ten years. Ms. McNamara became obsessed with finding out who was responsible for these horrific crimes, and it's an amazing book. One one hand, the crime spree of the Golden State Killer is fascinating (in a horrible way). But equally compelling is Ms. McNamara's story about her desire to solve the crime and the ends she went through to do this. I honestly can say that I've never read a true crime book quite like this... and I mean that in the very best possible way.

I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK is definitely a must-read for fans of true crime and mysteries. Ms. McNamara not only conducted some amazing research on these crimes and the suspects, but she also presented the stories (both the criminal's and hers) in a well-written and cohesive way. There is no doubt that she was a talented writer, but I think it was her honesty and passion that made this book so special. Unfortunately, she died before she could finish writing it, but her lead researcher and colleague pieced some chapters together; and it made the book even more intriguing... in an odd way.

I totally understood Ms. McNamara's sheer determination to find the killer and how she became obsessed with it. It's hard to believe that for thirty years this criminal has gotten away with these crimes, and I know that it's not just Ms. McNamara who has been driven to solve these crimes. Keep in mind that DNA testing wasn't possible thirty years ago, and some of the testing they had was less than accurate. I thought the explanation of the investigative methods thirty years ago versus what is available today was fascinating. I'd like to think that it wouldn't be possible for someone like the Golden State Killer to elude law enforcement now, but who would think that this killer could have wreaked so much terror without being found even back then?

I highly recommend I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK for fans of true crime and memoirs. It's a very well written story about two obsessive minds that is absolutely fascinating.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I used to read lots of true crime too. I keep reading great things about this book and look forward to picking it up.