20 February 2020

Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara cover
Journalist and author Michelle McNamara became interested in true crime early in her career, however it was the unsolved rapes and murders attributed to the East Area Rapist (or the EAR) in the 1970s-1980s that became her focus.

Michelle's dogged pursuit of the truth and attempts to establish the identity of the killer earned her the respect of those around her. The case became her life's obsession and her meticulous research assisted with the case. Michelle's work proved the EAR was responsible for crimes outside the East Area, and she was responsible for the updated moniker Golden State Killer (GSK). Michelle's contributions to the case also led to a book deal she tragically wasn't able to see through to fruition.

Unfortunately Michelle McNamara died in April 2016 before the Golden State Killer was identified and arrested in April 2018. At the time of her death, her book was only half finished and her husband and several of Michelle's colleagues finished the book based on her notes and thousands of computer files.

I first became interested in the case when I learned how the Golden State Killer had been identified and subsequently arrested. With his DNA on police file, authorities didn't have anything to compare it to and were unable to identify him. In a stroke of brilliance, authorities decided to upload the DNA to a website used by regular citizens to map their family tree or research their personal genome. After a match to distant relatives, the suspect pool began to shrink and the killer was identified as former Police Officer Joseph James DeAngelo.

Published posthumously, I listened to the audiobook of I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and like readers before me, I was also disappointed Michelle didn't live to see the arrest of DeAngelo.

The details of individual cases were hard to hear and the psychological torment DeAngelo submitted his victims to was shocking. However the book also includes moments of memoir by Michelle and the authors finishing her work to produce an overall book that seemed a little disjointed at times and still retained an 'unfinished' feel.

I would be interested in an updated edition which includes details of how the GSK was identified and ultimately arrested, tried and sentenced and a thought piece on how Michelle may have felt about it. Reading this two years after publication and the arrest has dated the book somewhat for me, and it would have been more compelling if I'd read it at the time of publication or not known the outcome beyond the last pages.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:
★ ★

Would you like to comment?

  1. I really want to read this. The paperback edition has an additional postscript about the arrest etc, and if you are curious there are several interviews with her late husband in which he discusses how she would feel

    1. Thanks Shelleyrae, I'd definitely recommend tracking down the edition with the additional postcript and thanks for the recommendation.


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