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I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer


I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

ratings:
4.5/5 (1,192 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 27, 2018
ISBN:
9780062798695
Format:
Audiobook

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EbookSnapshot

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Editor's Note

On the screen…

Journalist Michelle McNamara died while working on this masterful true-crime portrait of the Golden State Killer, published just months before police say they solved the 40-year-old case. HBO's adaptation is on screens this summer.

Description

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.

Publisher:
Released:
Feb 27, 2018
ISBN:
9780062798695
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

EbookSnapshot

About the author

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.


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What people think about I'll Be Gone in the Dark

4.4
1192 ratings / 100 Reviews
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Critic reviews

  • Determined to solve the cold case of the Golden State Killer, journalist Michelle McNamara died suddenly while working on this masterful portrait of the serial killer. Now, a suspect has been arrested. McNamara's husband, Patton Oswalt, says, "Think you got him, Michelle."

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    A good, encompassing book detailing one women's efforts to catch a predator who eluded police. The killer is depicted as a type of Jack the Ripper who was, after the great efforts, apprehended. The study is detailed, but the specifics sometimes went over my head. Nevertheless, this was an entertaining and informative read that spanned much of a timeline and was satisfying- as you root for McNamara, despite the odds, throughout the entire process. Due diligence is taken as well as a high degree of respect and consideration for the victims of these awful, horrendous incidents. 3.75- worth reading.
  • (4/5)
    Really very good and much better than it had a right to be as the author left us before putting her finishing touches on it. Everyone did a truly remarkable job in making the author's voice resonate throughout. I truly loved the sections of memoir and the honesty of McNamara in describing her passion for this topic. Normally, I'm not sure that I would have liked the insinuation of the author's life into the narrative, but she made it seem so completely natural and seamless that it worked. I really knew virtually nothing about this case so it was all new to me. McNamara conveyed the mood without going into a lot of graphic detail. I will honestly say that it spooked me more than a little as I sat at home alone reading of this monster's crimes. Her respect and admiration for all of the investigators who had spent huge chunks of their lives toward solving those crimes is evident and that made me respect and admire her. I really wish that she had been able to finish the book because I think the reader would have been rewarded with a narrative that was thematically more nuanced and cohesive.
  • (4/5)
    This book was well-written "true crime" reporting; and the reader was pulled in to the often-gruesome details. Reading this book was like driving bay a car accident..."gawking" because you can't look away! This book was something different! Good stimulating reading!
  • (4/5)
    While perusing the New York Public Library's Winter 2018 Staff Picks (an excellent recommendations list by the way) I came across I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. Since I have somewhat of an interest in true crime and especially serial killers (see my archive for the evidence) this seemed a natural choice for me. McNamara (who sadly passed away before completion of the book) covers the history of the Golden State Killer back to his beginning when he was still referred to as the Visalia Ransacker before upping his game to become the East Area Rapist. (Michelle actually gave him the moniker of the Golden State Killer.) He began as a peeping tom before graduating into a burglar, rapist, and then finally a serial murderer. His reign of terror in California where he committed more than 120 burglaries, 50 rapes, and 13 murders spanned about a decade from the late 70s into the mid-80s before abruptly stopping. His crimes crossed jurisdictions and so for many years police did not know that all of these crimes were the work of one single man...a man that at the time of this book's publication was still not identified. McNamara talks about her obsession with true crime and specifically with this man who she often referred to as her 'white whale'. She cultivated relationships with other true crime aficionados through online forums (and her blog) but also developed close working friendships with detectives both past and present who had worked on the case. By assembling all of the available evidence (of which there was an abundance) she began to comb through it hoping that she would see something that would help them find the man who many believed had either died or been imprisoned on unrelated charges. Although there was ample evidence including DNA there was no match in any database so detectives routinely fed his DNA markers into genealogy websites hoping for a match...and shortly after McNamara's book was published they found one. This book is as much a true crime novel about an unidentified killer as it is the memoir of the woman who devoted so much of her time to investigating his crimes. If you like watching shows like Cold Case or really anything on the I.D. channel you'll feel right at home with I'll Be Gone in the Dark. 8/10
  • (4/5)
    I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara was unfortunately published posthumously as the author died suddenly in 2016. True Crime readers would likely know of McNamara from both her website TrueCrime Dictionary and her published magazine articles, many of which were about the Golden State Killer.The Golden State Killer was a serial killer, rapist and burglar who committed at least 13 murders, more than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries in the state of California from 1974 to 1986. The name Golden State Killer was coined by the author to describe this monster who, before the use of DNA profiling and identification was thought to be more than one person. Many of his crimes were linked in the early 1980’s when DNA profiling was used. In fact DNA evidence was finally the nail in the coffin for Joseph James DeAngelo. The Golden State Killer was apprehended in 2018, unfortunately after the author’s death and he is currently being processed through the courts. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was written and published before the perpetrator was known and so deals more with the actual crimes and how the victims were affected.I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is both informative and chilling. This book consists of very dark subject matter and the author makes every effort not to dwell on the horror or sensationalize the crimes in any way. She delivers the information in an honest and straight forward manner and includes information on how the investigations developed and how they all so often lead to a dead end. At the time of her death the book was still unfinished and consisted of legal pads full of notes and files of related research. People closest to the author helped put the book together which explains to me why the book felt a little disjointed at times. Nevertheless, this is an excellent true crime story by an author that was totally dedicated to this project.
  • (4/5)
    It’s a shame she passed away before a) she could finish the book and b) they caught the killer. The parts that she wrote were vivid and engaging, but all I could feel from the parts her co-author was a sad wistfulness that she wasn’t there to fully realize her vision.
  • (4/5)
    I woke up on April 25th to a story I never thought, but I had long hoped, to see: there was an arrest in the Golden State Killer case. The Golden State Killer (GSK), aka The East Area Rapist (EARS) or The Original Night Stalker (ONS), was suspected of fifty rapes, a dozen murders, and more than 100 burglaries, all committed in California over the course of a few decades, and it was long thought that he wouldn’t be caught. As a huge true crime fan, I knew this case fairly well, thanks two big factors. The first was the podcast “My Favorite Murder”, and that led to the second: the book “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara. McNamara was a true crime writer with the blog “True Crime Diary”, and had been doggedly pursuing The Golden State Killer (a phrase she created) at the time of her tragic death in 2016. Earlier this year “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” was released, in part to Bill Jensen, a co-investigator and investigative journalist in his own right. So when an arrest was made, the news spread like wildfire, and while the police were reluctant to give McNamara any credit outside of raising awareness, many think that that very awareness (starting with her blog and various articles she wrote) was vital to putting pressure on, which in turn led to an arrest. I read “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” before Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer and seventy two year old man, was arrested for the crimes. But now that he has been, I want to shine a light on this great book, especially since the story has finally found some closure.What stands out immediately about this book is how personal it is. While McNamara herself didn’t know anyone who was hurt or killed by GSK/EAR/ONS, an unsolved murder of a childhood neighbor always stuck with her throughout her life. As she started to learn about The Golden State Killer, she began to feel a deep sense of injustice for the victims that he left behind, and started to investigate it herself. She made connections with investigators, she dove into online groups of fellow armchair investigators, she visited locations and dug through box after box of evidence. Her almost obsessive commitment to this case is juxtaposed with the crimes themselves, and the horror that GSK/EAR/ONS brought upon his victims. But she is always sure to be respectful, and to keep the details vague enough to be respectful, but precise enough to paint a picture of just how awful these crimes were. She gives voice and context for the people that GSK/EAR/ONS raped or murdered, and always puts them at the forefront and the fact that justice eluded them and those they left behind for so long. In many true crime books (with a few exceptions, of course, like Ann Rule) the focus is primarily on the murderer, and the victims merely objects in a salacious story. But with McNamara, she wants the reader to know the victims and makes their voices the most important ones. Would this be different had DeAngelo been identified at publishing? Possibly. But I do get the sense that for McNamara, the identity was only important for justice purposes; this wouldn’t have been a story to give him any glory or to make his crimes entertainment.As you read, McNamara instills actual terror into you. I had to stop reading this book after dark, because any noise and anything out of place sent me into a paranoid spiral. Her writing is that immersive, pulling you in and keeping you engaged. She also makes herself vulnerable by being fully aware and honest with her own obsession, and the toll that it takes on her life and her own mental health. Unlike the book that Robert Graysmith wrote about The Zodiac Killer, McNamara knew that she was treading towards obsession, and that it was deeply affecting her life. The sad fact of the matter is that when Michelle died unexpectedly in her sleep, she could have been seen as, in a way, GSK/EAR/ONS ‘s last victim. She had been having trouble sleeping, and her husband (comedian Patton Oswalt) had suggested she take some Xanax and just sleep until she woke up. And she didn’t wake up, because of an undiagnosed heart condition in tandem to the Xanax and other prescriptions. The tragedy of her death lingers on the page, as there are sections with editor’s notes that explain that they were originally unfinished, or that they were pieced together by her notes or previous articles. It’s so great to see that this book and story she was so dedicated to was finished by people close to her, but the loss is still palpable.So how does the new information about John DeAngelo affect this book? If anything, it makes it more poignant, and it certainly doesn’t diminish it. I say this because of a specific moment in the epilogue, entitled “A Letter To An Old Man”. It’s a final moment that is essentially a letter from Michelle to GSK/EAR/ONS, and it works as a powerful cap off to a wonderful book. The final paragraph is all the more powerful now. I’m going to quote part of it here to show you what I mean, a quote that’s made the rounds on social media a lot in the days after DeAngelo’s capture.“The doorbell rings. No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly towards the insistent bell. This is how it ends for you. ‘You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,’ you threatened a victim, once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.”And as Patton Oswalt and many others have pointed out, this is exactly what happened on April 25th, 2018.“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is a stunning true crime book and an opus for a voice that left us far too soon. It will surely be considered one of the greats of the genre in the years to come, and Michelle McNamara will be remembered for all the good that she did in her help to bringing closure to the victims of a horrible monster. But it’s also just well written book about confronting darkness in life and in ourselves, and how to battle it as best we can.
  • (5/5)
    For more than ten years Northern California was haunted by an unknown, violent predator who committed fifty sexual assaults in the area. He then moved south in California and his reign of terror expanded to murder. This man became known as the East Area Rapist. One day he simply disappeared. He was never identified. There was never a solid lead on who he might be. He was never captured.Michelle McNamara stumbled upon the case decades later and become obsessed with finding out who this criminal was. She dubbed him the Golden State Killer. She found a community of like-minded individuals also passionate about bringing justice upon the man who committed these crimes. She gathered extensive amounts of data, case facts, interviews, and anything that would shed some light on identifying the killer. McNamara’s untimely death lead to the book being completed by a close colleague. Within these pages lies the truth and search to unmask a killer.I’m not typically much of a non-fiction reader, but I have a soft spot for true crime. I originally saw I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK all over social media and knew I wanted to read the book and then when the killer was caught I knew I had to read the book. Michelle McNamara’s dedication to research and investigating the Golden State Killer is absolutely amazing! There truly is no other way to categorize the level of detail that went into this book. After page one I was hooked and wanted to run off to Google everything. Luckily, McNamara already had everything I needed within these pages, aside from what has happened since the release of the book of course.Michelle McNamara and those who picked up after her death have a writing style that is gripping and enticing while being saturated in facts. I think I shy away from non-fiction often because it can become unreadable and boring. That never happened with I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK. I was stunned what I read and at times downright terrified by this man’s actions. This is definitely not a book I recommend reading while home alone at night. I also listened to parts of this one on audiobook, which was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend this book for anyone and everyone!
  • (4/5)
    This is the author's memoir of her obsession with identifying the EAR/ONS who we now know to be Joseph James DeAngelo. The problem with this book was that McNamara died before DeAngelo was identified and before she finished the book. The book was acually pieced together after her death. Now that DeAngelo has been identified you are reading of his devious crimes through a different lens. He was responsible for over 50 rapes, 12 murders, and 120 break ins. The parts of the book where McNamara describe the victims and the lives they were leading before tragedy interceded were so well written and were my favorite. I found the weak part to be in the end where all of her conjecture and grasping at straws hypothesis. She was not a law enforcement officer with detective training. She was someone who was a good writer and who was fascinated, maybe in a n unhealthy way, with the case. The most interesting thing I took from the book was when it was revealed that she was interested in using Ancestry.com to submit the unidentified DNA. We now know that was how the case was solved. DeAngelo's DNA was submitted into a family DNA site and his family was identified. McNamara did not have the ability to do this herself. I wonder if the detectives got the idea to do that from her. If that is the case then she solved everything. Publicly they have said that her research had no bearing on what they did. Due to McNamara's death I found the book to be disjointed. It is better if you know the facts of the case before trying to read it. DeAngelo's crimes were prolific and it is hard to understand all that is attributed to him just by reading the book. If you read the Wikipedia article first you will be better off. What I got from this book are glimpses of how good the book could have been if MCNamara had lived long enough to see DeAngelo's arrest. As it is you are left with a tribute to one woman's obsession with unmasking a man who very nearly eluded justice.
  • (4/5)
    Michelle McNamara's book is compelling and tense, but also filled with compassion and righteous anger for the victims of the man she dubbed the Golden State Killer. I could only read this because by the time I did they caught the guy. Otherwise it would give me nightmares. It's an amazing accomplishment and an unforgettable read.
  • (3/5)
    A very interesting book and I'm glad I read it. However, the stellar reviews by Stephen King and Michael Connelly on the back cover left me puzzled. Some parts of the book are very good indeed, some patchy and some repetitive. This is totally not the fault of the original author who tragically died before the book was finished, leaving her friends and collaborators to fill in the gaps. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in true crime but warn them to be aware of its shortcomings too.
  • (4/5)
    Very good true crime book about the Golden State Killer.. At times some of it is hard to read, so much detail. The author did a good job interviewing many of the people / families involved in these horrible crimes. Definitely I would recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime books.
  • (4/5)
    This book is extremely well researched and the details are top notch! But, due to the untimely death of the author, I felt like the narrative was choppy, a little confusing, and sometimes repetitive. And I was a little put off by the obsessiveness of the author. It kinda creeped me out. The GSK is clearly a monster, and if the man they have in custody now is him, he deserves the full punishment of the law. And then some. It's interesting that the suspect in custody was caught using the technique described in Part 3, using a DNA company database. And even more interesting that the suspect was caught so soon after this book was published! I'd like to know how much of the conjecture written by Ms. McNamara matches up with the actual man himself. I'm so sorry she didn't live to see his capture.I think the best piece of writing in this book is in the "Epilogue: Letter to an Old Man". The author calls this horrible killer out, calls him right on the carpet, a challenge, if you will: " Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light."Damn shame she missed the ending.
  • (5/5)
    I am convinced that Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark will go down in history, along with Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, as required reading for true crime enthusiasts, and perhaps scholars. Her sympathy for victims, the humanization of a killer, and beautiful prose add up to an obsession in reading her obsession with finding the Golden State Killer.
  • (5/5)
    This one will be with me for a long time. Michelle is a beautiful writer, and I only wish she had been able to continue her work.
  • (5/5)
    Highly recommended. I only wish the author had been alive when they caught this elusive monster that haunted her for so many years.
  • (2/5)
    Jumbled, meandering, obsession as a stand-in for purpose. I don't think this would've ever been published without hype and help
  • (3/5)
    This was so interesting, I just wish Michelle McNamara could have finished writing this book herself because I felt like there was a jarring difference between her writing in the first third of the book and the rest of it ; though I was definitely still invested in this (true) story enough to want to finish it, I did not feel very compelled to do so. I do of course understand that that could not be helped and I still really think this book is well worth the read!
  • (4/5)
    It is amazing how much detail and research went into this
  • (5/5)
    Incredible!! Chilling story....so captivating and well-written. The world lost a gifted soul with the passing of Michelle McNamara.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliantly written. It’s hard to put down. Thank you, Michelle, Paul, Billy, Kid, and Patton!
  • (5/5)
    So well written it was hard to stop reading. Michelle is a wonderful storyteller.
  • (5/5)
    If you are a fan of true crime or an amateur slooth, this is a fantastic book for you to read.
  • (5/5)
    Fantastic! Addictive writing and storytelling. Wow! It’s hard to believe such evil exists and goes undetected for so long .
  • (5/5)
    Part true crime, part obsession. A real incredible story of how persistence and modern technology bring one of the worst unknown serial killers to justice.
  • (5/5)
    Very good read! Congratulations Mrs. McNamara! You got him! Your work is incredible!
  • (5/5)
    I’m not a person who is really into true crime stuff, but being a big fan of Patton Oswalt and hearing about his wife Michelle I decided to try it anyway on multiple recommendations. It’s a phenomenal story. Very well written and puts you into it with all the details.
  • (5/5)
    The book is totally deserving. I loved them, and I think they are must read. If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top or joye@novelstar.top
  • (5/5)
    Great book. Highly recommend. The narrative is full of facts yet reads like a novel.
  • (5/5)
    An amazing true crime masterpiece. We lost a treasure in the death of Michelle McNamara. Sad that this will be her only book.