I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara

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 TrueCrimeDiary.com, 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.

Michelle McNamara was a screenwriter, journalist, and true crime writer. She was the founder of the blog “True Crime Diary,” which covers lesser-known crimes and cold cases. In 2005, she married comedian Patton Oswalt. They had one daughter together, born in 2009

My Review:

This has been sitting on my kindle bookshelf for ages and having just re-discovered my love of true crime and just finished listening to the incredible EVIL HAS A NAME (review here), I immediately downloaded the audio version of Michelle McNamara’s book about the Golden State Killer.

This is a fascinating account of Michelle’s determination and obsession to bring the Golden State Killer to justice through her incredible investigative journalistic skills. Listening to this audio book, Michelle’s skills of giving the victims and survivors an authentic voice brings so much more depth to this story.

The fact that Gillian Flynn starts the audio book with an introduction and explanation that Michelle tragically passed away in her sleep at the age of 46 in April 2016 before she had the chance to finish this book and never saw the eventual capture and imprisonment of Joseph James DeAngelo in April 2018.

Apart from the fact that the subject matter is truly horrific and this evil man inflicted so much pain and devastation on his victims, survivors and their families over such a long period of time and remained at large for over 30 years, Michelle’s account of each crime is so detailed and hauntingly beautiful in her prose (narration).

This work of true-crime is a fascinating and uncomfortable story of pure evil and Michelle’s incredible talent for investigating, researching and literary skills are outstanding. It’s a tragic and bittersweet ending that although he was finally caught and brought to justice, Michelle didn’t survive to see it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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