Howdy! It’s my first post of my Staycation and I’m constantly feeling like I need to rush to do all of the things on my list and then realizing that no, I’ve got time to rest. I did go to bed early last night and woke up early (of course) this morning and went grocery shopping, which ultimately resulted in a HUNT for vegan whipped topping.
Don’t worry, I found it.
This afternoon, I ventured to the pool with a giant tumbler of jalapeno limeade (Thanks, Trader Joe’s) and I finished reading Blanche’s Book Club’s latest pick – “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara. Here is the book’s description:
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.
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. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.
Before I get into thoughts on this book, it’s important that I mention one weird thing about me (trust me, there are multiple weird things, but) – I love true crime and crime fiction, but I’m a big scaredy cat!
But that’s the thing about fears, right? They aren’t always rational, and this book was flying off the shelves and was all over the internet when they caught the Golden State Killer just a few months ago.
Even if it was scary, I knew I had to read it.
In short, I’m glad I did. This book is phenomenal. It’s less about what he actually did (although there is plenty enough of that to scare anyone) and more about the investigation and the author’s own obsession with her very path to find him.
It might be obvious, but this book does contain triggers, and I’ll also note that I made a rule for myself and only read this book during daylight hours. I also stuffed the rod of my broom handle in the sliding glass door so no one could get into my apartment, so there’s that.
This book is so well-written, it’s almost a shame it’s about someone terrible. However, some of the ideas McNamara comes across in the book are what eventually lead to his capture – the only unfortunate part is that McNamara wasn’t alive to see it and celebrate it on her popular crime blog as I’m sure many would have wished for.
There were two things that I found particularly interesting about this case: 1. It happened for such a long period of time that it passed through multiple detectives, investigators, and technological changes in crime units. Even the term “serial killer” wasn’t popular until the 80s, and testing DNA was a cumbersome chore.
2. This guy committed so many crimes, he had entire cities staying up all night, sleeping in shifts with all of the lights on in their homes. Folks tied tambourines to their doors and windows, and stores sold out of window reinforcements and iron bars – is that not insane? I mean, rightfully so to those who were freaked out, but I can’t imagine living in fear for so long, and likely wondering what the investigators were doing.
This book has been compared to Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” (one of my all-time favorites) and of course, it’s a little different in that McNamara wasn’t befriending the Golden State Killer, but it’s similar in that it presents gruesome crime in a different light.
I have never read any of McNamara’s previous work – on her blog or her various published crime articles – but it should also be mentioned that she was a detective in her own right. Of course, she wasn’t on the PD payroll, but she had friendships with detectives, traveled with them to old crime scenes, and poured over files (37 boxes to be exact) that she thought might lead to an arrest.
So yes, I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves true crime, crime fiction, or if you’re interested in CSI history.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Sociable” by Rebecca Harrington. Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to get real-time reviews and keep up with my Staycation!