This review has been a hard one for me to write, because I have mixed feelings about Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”
I’ll start by saying I honestly did not know that much about the Golden State Killer before reading McNamara’s book. I had heard the name GSK before and knew vaguely of the case, but the finer details were unknown to me. When I heard the news of his capture, and subsequently of this book (which has flown under the radar for me), I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy.
And, for those who don’t know, the Golden State Killer is a serial rapist and murdered who terrorized California in the 1970s and 80s. The mystery of who he was went unsolved for decades, until just about a month ago.
I didn’t read too many articles or too many reports on the GSK’s arrest before reading the book, because I wanted to see the case through Michelle’s eyes. Her writing in this book was fantastic and the research that went into it remarkable. It was creepy in all the best ways, and the descriptions of the neighborhoods this man stalked and how his acts were carried out made you feel like you were walking beside him. Yet, she also did a fantastic job of not sensationalizing the case, or making his attacks to detailed and horrifying to bear.
All of that makes me on the line between giving this book three stars and four.
One issue I had with it, unfortunately, is the timeline. I read this book in spurts over a few weeks, and maybe not reading it straight through is what got me mixed up. In some parts McNamara jumps back and forth in time, and I often felt lost as to when we were, the year and the number of attacks in. It also became clear that McNamara
was not part of the finished project (for those who don’t know, she died unexpectedly before publication, which is so sad.) There were chapters that didn’t flow as well as others, some where the writing wasn’t as captivating or crisp.
In the end, this is about 3 1/2 to 4 stars for me. I definitely recommend it for people interested in the Golden State Killer and lovers of true crime, it’s a meticulously researched and at times captivating read. It just left me wishing there was a bit more organization to the chapter arrangement and a clearer timeline to keep me hooked.