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


Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Author: Michelle McNamara

Genre: True Crime

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Summary: from goodreads

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 was totally drawn into this book and this case which I knew nothing about before reading this. The author articulated her obsession with finding the monster she dubbed ‘the Golden State Killer’ so skilfully and with such intelligence. I think it’s incredibly important when writing about true crime to make sure to not glamorise the killer, to not give him the kind of attention he craves. Michelle McNamara definitely does not glamorise him, she never comes across as ghoulish as she always puts just as much focus on the victims lives as the killer’s. She is even handed and has enough compassion to demonstrate the devastating effect on the victims whilst still being single minded and determined in her pursuit of this elusive criminal.

I liked that McNamara spent a lot of time writing about the detectives involved and about their different approaches and theories. She gives such a full picture of the whole complex investigation. She has gone over even the most minute details of this case so thoroughly that as a reader you can fully trust her investigative capabilities. She is almost frenetic in her search, you can tell how invested she was in finding out the identity of the Golden State Killer. It is terrible that her death means she will not be there to witness his discovery because as she herself says, once his identity is clear he will lose his power as an invisible spectre. She deserves a great deal of credit for her dedication and meticulousness in her attempt to uncover him.

Being totally honest, the book is a little lacking in cohesion and conclusion. This is due to the fact that McNamara died before finishing it. There is no doubt that she would have tied everything together and structured the different strands extremely well had she been able to finish her book herself. Her editor, husband and other investigators have done as good a job as they possibly could in the circumstances to finish her work satisfactorily. It is however such a huge loss to the genre that she sadly died unexpectedly and obviously a much greater loss for her family.

This is a book that will stick in my mind for a long time. It is such a terrifying story and I found myself nervous and uneasy walking around my home at night. Every time I looked out a window into the darkness I was imagining the fear the people living in the area during the Golden State Killer’s reign of terror. It is a truly chilling tale. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone with any interest in crime, true or otherwise.


4 thoughts on “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara – Review

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