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I'll Be Gone in the Dark
Cover of I'll Be Gone in the Dark
I'll Be Gone in the Dark
One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERThe 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.

SCIBA Book Award Winner

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 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.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERThe 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.

SCIBA Book Award Winner

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 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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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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 29, 2018
    This posthumous debut recounts the chilling crimes of a serial murderer in California in the 1970s and ’80s, alongside the indefatigable investigation of crime writer McNamara to uncover the identity of the killer decades later. When McNamara first started writing about the case on her website TrueCrimeDiary in 2011, DNA testing had already linked 10 murders and 50 sexual assaults to one unknown man. The culprit, whom McNamara later gave the moniker “The Golden State Killer,” was a serial rapist in San Francisco’s East Bay in the mid-1970s, attacking women and girls in their homes. But in 1979, a close encounter with law enforcement led to a change in his M.O., and from that point on no one survived his attacks. McNamara fills in each crime with haunting details (“The suspect began clicking scissors next to blindfolded victims’ ears”) and tells the story of her own investigation, going as far as to track down and purchase from a vintage store a pair of cuff links that she believed the Golden State Killer stole from a victim. By the time of her sudden death in 2016, McNamara had inspired an online community of sleuths who continue to research the crimes. With its exemplary mix of memoir and reportage, this remarkable book is a modern true crime classic.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    This chillingly addictive account traces the crimes of the Golden State Killer (GSK), a prolific serial rapist and murderer who terrorized much of California in the 1970s and 1980s and has never been caught. The number of victims, eye-witness statements, and physical evidence surrounding the GSK is overwhelming. Yet journalist McNamara, who passed away while writing this book, sifts through the information with ease and sensitivity. Interspersed among chapters recounting specific GSK cases are more personal passages, in which McNamara explores her passion for detective work and the online communities whose members dedicate themselves to solving the unsovled. Though hard to put down, this work is a touch uneven, as a few sections were pieced together posthumously from notes and early drafts. Also, in the chapter "Los Angeles, 2012," McNamara draws a tone-deaf analogy between the widespread inaction of neighbors during GSK's spree and her encounter with a "young African American kid," whose "body language was so off" outside of her neighbor's house. That said, the big names attached to the book (Gillian Flynn, Patton Oswalt) will give it great shelf appeal. VERDICT A haunting, if somewhat patchy, read for fans of true crime. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/1/18, p. 30.]--Della Farrell, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    The Golden State Killer is once again in the headlines after finally being caught. This book about the search for him is sure to catch--and keep--readers' attention.McNamara, a TV screenwriter and true-crime blog and magazine writer, was particularly captivated by the man she dubbed the Golden State Killer. A prolific criminal who left dozens of cold cases (including at least 12 murders and 50 rapes) in his wake, the GSK had been glimpsed but never seen, and the author was sure he would be caught despite evading police for over 30 years. She hunted him mostly through online research, and she became friends with other cold-case enthusiasts, detectives, and others who still pursued justice, giving her unparalleled access to information about the GSK and his crimes. In this explosive book, McNamara combines her prodigious research with her impressive storytelling skills and ability to seamlessly weave the narratives of all those lives into one terrifying story. Sadly, the author died in 2016 before finishing the book (her husband, Patton Oswalt, provides the afterword), and the manuscript was completed by investigative journalist Billy Jensen and her lead researcher, Paul Haynes. The last section of the book is written in exactly the style one would expect from an investigative journalist: no nonsense and loaded with facts and relevant observations. For armchair true-crime enthusiasts, this cold case, packed with countless cases and near misses, would have been captivating based on nothing but the dry facts. However, in McNamara's skilled hands, this enthralling book becomes so much more: a detective story with an unlikely narrator, a study in changing forensic techniques, a multidecade saga that never loses urgency, and a potent analysis of human behavior in victims, witnesses, investigators, and onlookers.An exemplary true-crime book, and with an HBO adaptation in the works, this book will be enjoyed by any reader with an interest in human nature, crime, puzzles, and investigative dramas.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (Online Review)

  • Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air "Unputdownable.... Powerful."
  • Entertainment Weekly "A singular, fascinating read. It's lifelike in its incompletion... a posthumous treasure that feels thrillingly alive. A-"
  • Kate Tuttle, Los Angeles Times "What makes McNamara's work so compelling is her empathy and sensitivity toward the people touched by these crimes.... I wish I could read the next 10 books she would have written."
  • Stephen King "What readers need to know—what makes this book so special—is that it deals with two obsessions, one light and one dark. The Golden State Killer is the dark half; Michelle McNamara's is the light half. It's a journey into two minds, one sick and disordered, the other intelligent and determined. I loved this book."
  • New York Times "Both a vivid and meticulous investigation of a twisted predator who terrorized quiet, upper middle-class communities in California for nearly a decade, and a wrenching personal account from a writer who became consumed by her subject."
  • Megan Abbott "This book just knocked me over."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "A powerful portrait of the scale of the Golden State Killer's crimes, of the mechanics of criminal investigations, of the strange particular dread and paranoia in the California in the 1970s, and of McNamara's own obsession with violent men, and this one violent man."
  • Esquire, “The 25 Best True Crime Books Every Person Should Read” "That the book feels triumphant even after tragedy upon tragedy is a testament to McNamara's skill as a reporter."
  • Village Voice "Narrative true crime journalism at its very finest, a complex, multilayered, chilling portrait of a faceless monster, and a remarkable tribute to the woman who, up until her last day, believed she would one day have him in her crosshairs."
  • The Portland Mercury "Any true crime project is basically a reckoning with death, but in this case, it's a reckoning that is no longer theoretical. McNamara is gone. And what's especially sad about her absence is just how good she was."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "Remarkable.... A modern true crime classic."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune "Chilling.... Hard to put down."
  • Seattle Times "The work has many notable qualities — in particular, a penetrating and elegiac voice."
  • Booklist, starred review "Impressive."
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One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Michelle McNamara
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