Thursday, April 12, 2018

I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Release Date - February 27,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads 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, 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.

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 Michelle’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. 
True Crime books, I've discovered, are hard to review. You cannot talk about them the same way you would a piece of fictional work. There is no commentary to make on the characters. The plot cannot be deconstructed. It mostly falls to the writing of the book to pull the reader into the story. I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara is one of those true crime books that you instantly recognize as a stand out in its genre for so many reasons.

The writing in this is sharp. Michelle McNamara had such a distinct style to her writing that echoes in every single sentence of this book. It has the readability of commercial fiction, mixed with the attention to detail of any good investigative piece, and the passion of a woman whose words made you feel every emotion she was experiencing. You felt the exhilaration of a potential new lead just as strongly as you felt the disappointment when that lead resulted in a dead end. It takes a brilliant writer to pull off what this book does, and I can only mourn the books Michelle would have written as a result.

Every true crime obsessive will see a little of themselves in Michelle. She was drawn to true crime because of a need to make all the pieces fit. The puzzle like element to solving a case appealed to her. Others may be driven by a need to understand what would cause someone to commit these horrific acts, or even as a means of dealing with and facing anxiety they may face. People with an interest in true crime tend to bond together pretty quickly and that feeling is there with this book. The reader will feel connected to Michelle pretty quickly if they share that interest.

I'll Be Gone In The Dark paints a vivid picture of Norther California at the time of these attacks. The atmosphere is pitch perfect. Michelle has captured the essence of what it was like to live in these communities during this time. It captures that pulse pounding fear the victims felt, and ensures that you'll check your doors and windows an extra few times after reading. It's definitely not the kind of book to read in the dark while you are alone in your house.

The writing is so deeply personal that this book becomes almost a character study of not only the Golden State Killer, but Michelle McNamara herself. She divulges the depths of her obsessive need to follow up on leads. She shares details of how this investigation found its way into so many parts of her life. I found it remarkably brave that she would share so much of herself and it also makes the book connect with the reader in way that true crime books tend not to. Michelle McNamara seemed like someone I would have liked. She was someone I would have wanted to know and talk true crime with. I am only saddened to have only discovered this amazing woman's work after her death. This book is a stunning part of her legacy and destined to become a true crime classic that fans of the genre will pass along to those just entering the fold.

Patton Oswalt, Michelle's husband, mentions in his section of the book that he hopes Michelle somehow knows when the Golden State Killer is finally caught. I echo that sentiment, and hope that her research is carried on by other and that justice will eventually be served for the victims. If you're looking for a really well written, meticulously researched true crime read I cannot recommend this one enough. 

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