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

i'll be gone in the dark

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.

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Oh no, unpopular opinion time! Goodreads is filled with amazing reviews for I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and I really want to be one of those people that love this novel, but I just didn’t.

So some background before I get into my review. My husband and I spent last weekend in Indianapolis to go to the Indy 500. I’m not a racing fan, but I would still highly recommend it. Such a great atmosphere!

Anyways, on our road trip from Toronto to Indianapolis we listened to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I heard that it would be a great audiobook, so I was really excited! If you plan on reading this novel, I would suggest the audiobook because I think the narration was amazing. So engaging and easy to listen to.

If you don’t know anything about this novel, the writing process started with Michelle McNamara. Michelle had passed away while she was still writing the novel. Her husband, actor Patton Oswalt, had decided to publish the novel with the help of an investigative journalist, editor and associates. Some of the novel is written by Michelle and some is written based on her draft notes. Also, a suspect was later arrested 2 months after this novel was released.

I know that the timing of Michelle’s death, the novel being published and the suspect being arrested obviously can’t be avoided. But I really wish that the novel was published after the suspect was caught so there was more of a conclusion. I found myself googling the arrest afterwards and then piecing together what was in the novel vs. who the suspect is. Also despite the timing of the novel and the arrest, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, has said there was no relationship between this novel and the arrest.

The layout of the novel is a bit confusing. This is a true crime novel, so the horrific events in the novel did take place. I’m unsure why the novel didn’t talk about the crimes in chronological order. I think it would of helped the readers understand more about the Golden State Killer if the novel also didn’t jump back and forth so much.

Also I was confused on what the novel was suppose to be about. Again the timing of events did play a big factor in the novel. With Michelle’s death, I think that the novel was more about her then it was originally intended to be. Was this a true crime novel or a biography? At times, I couldn’t tell.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I still enjoyed the novel, but I was hoping for more a bit more. I’m excited to read a follow up novel once they have more information about the suspect. It could be a while since early reports are saying that the trial could take 10 years and cost 20 million dollar!!

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16 thoughts on “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

  1. Ooh I can see how this might divide audiences. I’m with you though – I wonder how much of the basis of this novel changed to encompass Michelle/the work she did vs. Michelle’s original vision of the novel before she passed. Sorry this one didn’t quite live up to expectations for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you so much. I’m still intrigued though, and I don’t know WHY I had no idea about the author’s connection to Patton Oswalt.

    Liked by 1 person

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