I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara Book Review Goodreads
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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara Book Review


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara Book Review

The lowdown from Goodreads

Publication Date February 27, 2018

Introduction by Gillian Flynn
Afterword by Patton Oswalt

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

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.

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. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara Book Review

Now, I love me some true crime. While I drool over 48 Hours & binge listen to Dirty John & Someone Knows Something, I’m not staying up at night to help solve cold cases. I don’t have the stomach for it & honestly, it would likely ramp up my anxiety to unmanageable levels.

The Golden State Killer

This is where Michelle McNamara comes in because she took on the unbelievable task of trying to unmask one of California’s most prolific killers. Harnessing her insomnia & satisfying her love for true crime, Michelle began her blog, True Crime Diary as a vehicle to look into the numerous murders committed by the man she dubbed The Golden State Killer.

From there, Michelle makes contact with investigators, creates maps & visual aids, searches through phone directories & more. Weekend trips were turned into forays to crime scenes. Messages were sent on true crime web forums. Friendships were created with fellow true crime junkies looking into this same case. Michelle’s dedication to finding the Golden State Killer entered every aspect of her life.

Michelle McNamara

First, I just have to say that not only is Michelle an amazing writer, but I have so much respect for numerous hours, sweat, tears she spent trying to help law enforcement solve this case. One thing Jessica & I have learned is that when you are truly passionate about something, you just need to insert yourself into the conversation. See, Michelle had the passion & drive to track down clues & create a profile for this serial killer. Obviously, this is no easy feat. She didn’t wait to be asked to help, she took the initiative & did it on her own.

Listening to this book, I just kept thinking, Damn, this woman doesn’t give up. Michelle went down all these rabbit holes & many lead her nowhere. This didn’t deter her. Michelle just kept going. She took all the information, & even if it was a dead end, she moved forward. Michelle’s research & work on this case is really inspiring.

Sarah, Get Away from the True Crime Stuff, Please

One of the things I love about true crime is that I learn something from it. Whether it’s looking out for people with fake injuries asking for help (hello, Ted Bundy) or learning to yell FIRE instead of HELP, I pay attention. I want to stay safe & I don’t want to end up on Dateline. I think it’s very easy to make light of certain cases, but it’s important to remember these are real people with families who love & miss them. Michelle knows that. She wants the families affected by the Golden State Killer to have closure. She poured her heart & soul into this case & I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer leaves us with more answers & a solid profile of the Golden State Killer. I can only hope that Michelle is proud of that.


Man, oh man. I am Really Into This book. I highly recommend the audio version & the afterword by Michelle’s husband, Patton Oswalt is very meaningful. Michelle unexpectedly passed away while writing this book & her true crime family assisted in finishing the manuscript. Even if you’re not that Into True Crime, this is a book anyone can appreciate.

If you are a fan of true crime novels, I would love to know some of your favorites.

Let’s connect with books!  We have all of our reviews on Goodreads!

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Michelle McNamara (1970–2016) was the author of the website True Crime Diary. She earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Minnesota, and had sold television pilots to ABC and Fox and a screenplay to Paramount. She also worked as a consultant for Dateline NBC. She lived in Los Angeles and is survived by her husband, Patton Oswalt, and their daughter, Alice.

Momma, wife, baker, reader & smart ass. I am Really Into doughnuts, inside jokes, trash TV, pizza, 48 Hours & George Michael.

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