I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
This was an amazing piece of true crime and investigative journalism. What made it even more amazing is that not only do you get the story of a serial killer, you also hear about it from a fascinating woman obsessed with finding the killer in a non-biased, factual manner.
It makes me sad that McNamara passed away before she was able to finish this novel and witness as The Golden State Killer, a moniker she created, was apprehended. She went to such extraordinary lengths to find out every detail she could to piece together clues. McNamara continuously searched the internet for past clues, bounced ideas off others interested in the case, reconstructed the crime scenes, spoke to witnesses and police to build her own profile of the killer and reanalyzed every bit of evidence found. She then happily offered any new potential piece of evidence or theory to the professional investigators as her only goal was to have him found. It didn't matter if she didn't find him nor found the exact clue that led to his capture, just as long as someone was able to find him. And although the police said McNamara's work did not directly assist them in finding the killer, her book and website kept the case prevalent enough that resources continued to be used so that he was found.
What I'm most upset about is that I would have loved to read McNamara's analysis and recreation of how he was found, as currently the book ends with him still free and unknown. She had this way of writing that detailed the crimes and had you shuddering as you imagined this prowler sneaking through yards, hopping fences, and peeking into windows. She then told the stories from the victims point of view, having you feel the horror with them as they woke up to a strange man standing at their bed and shining a flashlight in their eyes. Thinking he was gone only to have him breathe words into your ear once again about how he could kill you. When she interviewed the detectives, you could feel their determination and frustration and ultimate hope when a new lead came through. At times, I felt I was reading a fiction thriller rather than true accounts which was amazing and terrifying when reading about the acts of this sadistic rapist and killer that caused so much damage and yet very few people know about. Being able to read McNamara's take on the apprehension would have been amazing, but the book still ended with a wonderfully written note from McNamara to the killer.
Synopsis: 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.