I’m not particularly a fan of nonfiction. Despite the fact that I’m a fan of murder mysteries which should translate into being interested in reading about real life murders, I don’t read true crime or watch true crime on television. Thus, when I first came across I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, I took a look at the descriptive blurb written about the book on Amazon and dismissed it immediately.
The thing is, I kept seeing it on the lists of favorite reads in 2018, including by authors and other notable people I respect. I decided to give it a try. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
The book alternates between being a police procedural and scaring the living hell out of me. McNamara, a freelance writer and a crime blogger, tells the story about the 40 year search for the serial killer that she named The Golden State Killer. She manages to write in such a way that a non-fiction naysayer like myself found interesting.
The Golden State Killer — originally called the East Area Rapist and then, when he expanded his territory and his crimes, the Original Night Stalker — brutally raped more than 50 women and killed at least eight men and women between 1976 and 1986. Despite numerous police departments being heavily involved in the search for this madman, he remained elusive.
McNamara tells the story of her obsession with finding this man in a clear and undramatic manner. Her writing is so beautiful, that even in a section of the book in which she talks about her personal life growing up, I was riveted to her story. She became interested in true crime as an adolescent when a murder took place near her house. She spent the past several years researching and writing this book.
McNamara died suddenly before the book was completed and published. Her story was finished under the guidance of her husband, comedian and actor Oswalt Patton.
The good news is that in April 2018 (a couple of years after McNamara’s death and over 30 years after his crime spree ended), California authorities arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo for the murder of eight people, and the kidnapping/abduction of 13 more. Unfortunately, the rapes fall under a statute of limitation that precludes legal charges.
The book will keep you awake at night for certain. I had to limit my reading time to daylight. Otherwise I would spend the night waiting to hear a window break or awaken to a flashlight shining in my eyes.
If you are a fan of true crime — or even if you are a strong-hearted lover of brilliant writing, read this book.
Here is a link to the book.