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

Michelle McNamara
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jun 10, 2018

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

Michelle McNamara’s book investigating the Golden State Killer is a truly masterful work. The author explains her obsession with this case and her hopes of discovering the identity of the killer. She presents a staggering amount of research and information in such an engaging and organized way, while her clarity of writing and ever-present empathy enhance the reading experience.

Foolishly, I was not prepared to read about the truly haunting crimes that the Golden State Killer committed in the 1970s and 1980s. The author never divulges more information than is appropriate, but the fact remains that the perpetrator of these crimes was exceptionally cunning. McNamara does an excellent job of humanizing the victims as well as capturing life in California during the 1970s and 1980s. When I originally submitted this review to be published on our website, the identity of the killer was still part of a 40-year-long mystery. Four hours after submitting this review, the man believed to be the Golden State Killer was arrested thanks to a recent DNA breakthrough. It was the dogged persistence of law enforcement and advances in technology that ultimately brought justice to the victims of these horrible crimes, but people like McNamara also played a vital role by casting light into the shadows and by demanding the truth be revealed. Before her death, Michelle McNamara wrote a letter to the then-anonymous Golden State Killer, which closes with the following lines:

One day soon, you'll hear a car pull up to you curb, an engine cut out. You'll hear footsteps coming up your front walk.

...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 toward 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.

Even if, like me, you don’t turn to true crime books very often I recommend this compelling and well-researched book. Unfortunately, Michelle McNamara passed away in the middle of finishing this book, so 2 of her close friends and researchers helped finish the later chapters. If you would like to read more of Michelle’s work, you can read more on her website: TrueCrimeDiary.com.

Reviewed by Jesseca B.
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