Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Published by HarperAudio on February 27, 2018
Genres: True Crime
Length: 9 hrs 45 mins
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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." McNamara 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 McNamara'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.
l’ll Be Gone in the Dark is my first foray into true crime, which seems a little surprising. With the recent capture of the Golden State Killer and all the positive reviews of the book, I took a chance.
I didn’t know anything about the Golden State Killer until the recent news coverage. He committed at least 12 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California from 1974 to 1986. And it took detectives until this year to capture him. McNamara died before Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested, but the book is fascinating. It details the crimes, without being overly graphic. She talks about the victims and their families, how the crimes affected them, their families and their communities. She goes over the evidence and talks to detectives. She works with other amateur sleuths and is tireless in her own investigation with the resources she can access. But we also learn about her, about how she thinks, what drives her, how her obsession affected her life,
While I don’t know that the book helped lead to the arrest, the extra attention to the case couldn’t have hurt. I do know she would be thrilled with the capture and not at all surprised that what finally got him was DNA evidence.
I especially appreciated the afterward by her husband, Patton Oswalt. He so clearly loved, respected and supported her.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: