I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 7/8/19-7/10/19

Welcome to the dark side of my mind! Since I was in middle school, I have has an (to most people uncomfortable) obsession with serial killers. It all started with Criminal Minds, a CBS show depicting the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the unit in charge of connecting, profiling, and capturing within a serial killer case. At the ripe old age of 13, I began seeing (TV appropriate) crime scene photos of people bludgeoned to death, and as sick as it sounds, I loved it. It was something I shared with my mom (and let’s be real, Agent Derek Morgan was well worth the watch), and I couldn’t wait until 5 o’clock came around so we could watch episodes together on A&E. At 23, I have seen every episode that is available on Netflix, and am patiently waiting to see the end.

Beyond the very real Criminal Minds obsession, I have watched Mindhunter (have yet to read the book, but strongly considering it), Manhunt: Unabomber, select episodes from The First 48, Forensic Files, The Confession Tapes, and Inside the Criminal Mind, as well as Ted Bundy’s confession tapes and the ever growing content on the History Channel about serial killers. That’s just TV. Okay, so I may have a problem.

Serial killers are “made for entertainment” news. While some people are completely disgusted, the rest of the population treat it like a car crash you can’t look away from. Soon, you start to question “why is this happening?”, “what led us here?”, etc., etc. Here’s the thing, there is a whole science behind it. And I know what you are thinking “I bet you know all about it, you freak”, and the answer is yes, I do. BUT, I also took a class on it. Yep, totally did. My junior year, I was offered the chance to take a class on serial killers, taking information from known serial killers to then make a profile of my own. I got an A.

This book focuses on The Golden State Killer (also known as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Visalia Ransacker), a prolific serial killer during the 70s and 80s throughout California. During his reign, he murdered at least 13 people, raped at least 50, and burgulared over 100 houses. Not a good dude. McNamara, who ran a online crime sleuthing blog, worked alongside the original detectives to try and piece together who committed these crimes and how to catch him.

In the early 2000s, 3 villains became one after DNA evidence when the 3 monakers were found to be of the same individual. At that point, the investigation referred to him as EAR-ONS (East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker combined). With composite sketches, testimony, and other forms of evidence (including profiling, geo-profiling, and evidence left on or around the scene), McNamara begins her hunt for the Golden State Killer (GSK, a monaker she gave him, which became the official monaker, to the point where the police at the press conference after arrest called him the GSK).

McNamara sadly did not get to live to see him put behind bars, as she died in 2016. HOWEVER, in 2018, while her husband, Patton Oswalt, and the other collaborators for the book where on the press tour, news broke that the long manhunt for the GSK had finally come to a close thanks to the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo. He was captured thanks to ancestry DNA from GEDmatch. His name had never come up in McNamara’s research.

McNamara had this uncanny way of telling the story, keeping so many details in, without telling you all the grime and gore that more than likely was associated with the crime. This book is interesting for the average reader thanks to her memoir-like ability to discuss what her thoughts were that led her to this moment or discussion. I strongly recommend you pick it up and read it (if anything for Part 2 when she goes on a driving tour with one of the original detectives as he discusses evidence and his thoughts on the case as someone close to it).

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

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