If you are a true crime fan, if you listen to the podcasts, you were waiting for the posthumous release of Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer.
Michelle McNamara was the brains behind the True Crime Diary blog. When she started looking into the unsolved case of the East Area Rapist – Original Night Stalker, she became obsessed. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the story of both her obsession and the search for the identity of the man who terrorized California with over 60 rapes and at least 10 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.
This book is amazing and horrifying and great and the worst. I could not read it before bed, in the dark, or if I was alone in the house. Three friends read it at the same time as me and one night one texted me about it right before I went to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep for ages thinking about this book. McNamara lived alongside her investigation and as you read the book, you are living that with her. She once scoured yearbooks looking for waterpolo players because one time a victim said that the guy had muscular thighs. She tracked down a pair of cufflinks with the letter N off eBay because she thought they were ones that he stole from a victim. She spoke with those involved in the case, then and now, and with other online amateur sleuths as obsessed as she was.
McNamara’s brilliance is on display on every single page she wrote. This book was put together after her death by her husband, Patton Oswalt, and some of her research partners. Because of this, sometimes the book feels a little disorganized and disjointed. But don’t let that put you off because this is a classic in the true crime genre. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will live alongside The Stranger Beside Me and In Cold Blood for always, it’s that good.
It’s hard to think about the fact that she didn’t get to see her book out into the world, that her search for the identity of the man she dubbed the Golden State Killer was cut short. I have no doubt that she would have figured it out, if she hasn’t already. I think the hope of anyone who reads this book is that this will spark interest from others who will figure it out.
If you love true crime, this book needs to be on your list. Just, seriously, don’t read it in the dark. Or alone.