Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

A book review by Tim Bruck


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer is Michelle McNamara’s first and only true crime book. This intense 2018 nonfiction read is part true crime, part memoir and is all the better for it. Including her personal connections to true crime, McNamara deepens the reader’s understanding of her obsession, which is possibly the most intriguing part of the book. McNamara died in April of 2016 with only part of the book completed, so much of the book is pieced together from unfinished chapters and copious notes. This means as readers, we can only speculate what McNamara pictured as her final result, which gives a haunting feel to an already haunting story. The titular obsessive search surrounds the— until recently— unresolved cases of a serial rapist/murderer who was responsible for at least 50 sexual assaults and 10 deaths during the mid-70’s to mid-80’s in and around the Sacramento area of California. Going by many names— the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Visalia Ransacker— it was McNamara who coined the all-encompassing term “Golden State Killer”. This book is filled to the brim with individual case details that stretch from heart-breaking to fascinating to downright disgusting. McNamara’s fixation on the Golden State Killer and his crimes is incredibly powerful and simultaneously overwhelming. Though she never saw the capture of the killer (he was arrested in August of 2018), McNamara’s final chapter talks to the killer directly in a passionate, poignant address. Though it can be a formidable read, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is certainly a fascinating one.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was accessed via the Libby app.

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