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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara was obsessed for years with the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California for decades. She did an absolute ton of research, diving down the tiniest of rabbit holes, pursuing threads so thin they were gossamer, interviewing retired cops, and relentlessly pestering police precincts for access to old case files. She wrote articles on the subject, was an expert for TV documentaries on the subject, and seemed to be getting close to an answer when she suddenly and unexpectedly died in her sleep.

This book was mostly done, and her husband, Patton Oswalt, and a couple of her researchers and her editor, pieced the rest together. It doesn't feel pieced together except for one or two places where she was planning to do more research and hadn't yet, so there's a gap.

Thank goodness this didn't get set aside after her death, as it's an utterly compelling and creepy read. It's most definitely a can't-put-it-down book, but also it's a can't-read-it-at-night book (I tried, and it nearly became a book I read in one night because there's no way in hell I was going to sleep. Finished it during the day.) This isn't a typical ripped-from-the-tabloids true crime book--instead it belongs to this newer, more literary spin-off of true crime (which I think needs rebranding as the two sides of true crime don't have much overlap). It's beautifully written, convincing, and terrifying. I only wish Michelle could have lived to see its success, and to finish her work. If you have even the tiniest interest in this sort of thing, run out and get this book now.

I got this book for free from a friend who works at the publisher.

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