I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
4 out of 5 stars!!
As you may know from some of my other blog posts, I tend to avoid best-selling, over-hyped books (fiction and non-), at least until the ruckus dies down. So many times I’ve gone into one of these with high expectations, only to be left wondering why???
But with I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the hype is real.
The title pretty much says it all. Michelle McNamara was a person obsessed with true crimes, stemming from a childhood incident. She always wanted to know more, be it the investigation, the suspect profile, the victims……Then she came across these unsolved crimes from the late 1970’s and early ’80’s, originally based around the Sacramento, California area. An unknown person raped at least 60 women, murdered at least 10 others (most being couples he snuck up on as they slept). Why weren’t these crimes top priority at the time? How did this go so long without any leads whatsoever? Why, even once the perp was labeled The Original Night Stalker (not to be confused with Richard Ramirez who showed up a few years later) did law enforcement seem to do nothing? Michelle wanted answers to these and many more questions, and I have to say, she was like a pit bull with teeth sunk in….she would not let go until questions were answered. In no way was she ever trying to single handedly solve all of these crimes. She just wanted to know more about the investigations, and ultimately why nothing ever seemed to be done.
This is not your typical true crime writing. Michelle does more than just state statistics and facts. She also treats the crimes in a “gentle” way, stating what happened without giving the lurid details and respecting the privacy of the victims and families, something that I totally respect. And since there were so many unknowns, there is a lot of speculation and arm-chair detective action, but all is noted as such.
It is important to keep in mind that this book was not finished when McNamara passed away suddenly in 2016. The editors pieced together notes for some passages, used rough drafts for others (all clearly noted). Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen teamed up to write part three, which was an attempt to wrap up and provide a bit of a conclusion.
I will not give any spoilers in case you didn’t hear about the events that transpired shortly after the publication, and I highly recommend getting the latest updated version so you can find out about it. It’s interesting and intriguing, to say the least.
If you are a true crime fan, put this book at the top of your list.