I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara | Book Review

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

Author: Michelle McNamara

Publisher: Harper

Release date: February 27th, 2018

Pages: 352

Genre: True Crime

Rating: ★★★★★

| Buy I’ll Be Gone in the Dark here |

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018.

Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt

“A brilliant genre-buster…. Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.”   —Stephen King

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.

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Why did I choose to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark?

As I mentioned in this post, I found out about this book through the Goodreads Choice Awards. At the end of the year, readers voted on their favorite books of 2018 and when the results were up, I checked them out. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark won best book in the Nonfiction category.

I am not am avid reader of Nonfiction (I read a biography here and there), but I am however a big fan of crime novels and police novels. At the time I picked up this book, I was also strangely obsessed with anything True Crime (Okay, I still am): as such, this book really intrigued to me.

And boy, did I not regret it.

What’s it about?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is an investigative look into the prolific and elusive “Golden State Killer”, who is responsible for at least 50 rapes and 10 murders in California in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was released posthumously in 2018, as Michelle McNamara tragically died of an accidental overdose in 2016 at the age of 46. At the time of her death, the book was not yet completed: it was edited by her husband and an author friend.

This book tells of Mrs McNamara’s research and investigation of the infamous “Golden State Killer”, a name which she actually coined herself and has now been picked up the authorities that worked his case.

McNamara interviewed victims and families of the victims of the GSK in order to properly portray his modus operandi. She pored over the case files of the different counties he attacked in. She spoke with all the detectives that worked his case, the ones that first dealt with the attacks as much as the ones who worked this case as a cold case. She drove to the crime scenes to better understand their layout.

All of this makes for a very detailed and thorough investigation into the GSK, which is what you get when you read this book. You also get an insight into McNamara’s family and home life, who freely admits that she was obsessed with the case.

What did I think of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark?

Mrs McNamara takes us on a journey through the times and the crimes: it’s hard to imagine, in this day and age, how a Serial Rapist/Killer could elude the police for so long (as of 2016, when this book was written, he had still not been caught). But once you realize that the attacks happened in a time where DNA evidence did not exist, or when security cameras were not everywhere, you can begin to understand the struggles of the police force.

The book does an excellent job at explaining the progress of the investigation by the police and how the times affected such investigation. For example, you read about how most of the cases were not linked until 2001, how the DNA collected at the crime scenes could only be really tested in the 1990s, how there was no universal system to check the DNA against, etc.

What did I think of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark? I loved it (is it weird that I loved a book about a serial killer? Probably). I was afraid an investigative journalistic book would be a bit too dull, but it really wasn’t. I was hooked from beginning to end.

My only regret is that Mrs McNamara did not get to complete it. Fortunately, she had written many articles for newspapers about the GSK and these allowed for the book to be pieced together by her husband and friend. The editors of this book did a wonderful job.

What adds to the thrill while reading is the knowledge that the GSK has finally been caught after all those years: indeed, he made the headlines last year as he was arrested and is being charged with 13 counts of murder. As I was reading this book, I also kept my eyes peeled for news about his court dates: according to Wikipedia, he is due to appear in court April 10, 2019 (which as the article is being written, is about two weeks away). I will be following this trial very closely.

It is a testament to Mrs McNamara’s talent that her obsession with the Golden State Killer has now become mine as well. And, I’m sure, will become yours as well, if you read this dark but amazing work.

And that’s my review for I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer.

Click here to buy I’ll Be Gone in the Dark!

Have I convinced you to read it? Or have you read it already and agree or disagree with my review? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time!


I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara | Book Review | Petite Mélanie A gripping True Crime tale of an investigative journalist trying to uncover the terrifying Golden State Killer - deemed responsible for at least 50 rapes and 10 murders in California in the 70's and 80's. This is my review and why you should read this nonfiction book.


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