I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Book - 2018
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade--and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

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 is destined to become a true crime classic--and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Publisher: New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062319784
Characteristics: xvi, 328 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: I will be gone in the dark

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mko123 Apr 26, 2018

They just got this guy! The recently deceased author kept the interest high and the heat on the detectives to solve these decades old crimes. Too bad she didn't live to see the arrest. I got half way through this book and had to put it down because I was getting too creeped out. That is a testam... Read More »


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BLACKSQUIRREL_1
Jul 15, 2018

Saying she was obsessed was an understatement. She covered not only the Golden State killer but other crimes as well, every red herring, tons of detail. Sometimes it got confusing. I admire her tenacity. It's sad that she died before she knew how the story ended. She was on the right track. (Joseph James D'Angelo was arrested 4-26-2018).

s
Sandra_SMB
Jul 15, 2018

Amazing book. Amazing writer and researcher Michelle McNamara. I love her style. I can't believe that someone so gifted and tenacious died so young, leaving a young daughter behind. But she was on the right track re DNA eventually identifying the killer. And she left behind an amazing legacy.

Unlike other commentators, I love the way this book is written. I didn't find it disorganized because of her untimely death and others having to complete and organize the book. I found it all spell binding. The book is as much about Michelle's obsession of finding the killer, as it is about the trail of clues the killer left behind.

Thank you Michelle! I have so much respect for you.

w
WoodneathSheri
Jul 14, 2018

I'd wanted to read this book since April, when I heard that DNA test results had helped to find this evil man. I had also just sent in my DNA sample to 23 and me and was awaiting my results, so the subject was fascinating to me and I hope that DNA can help bring many more criminals to justice. As to the book, I think after all the hype I was expecting something more. Several reviewers have stated that the book seems disjointed and the timeline hard to follow because of the authors untimely death. I felt this way as well. The stories jump around through different decades which makes the writing seem choppy. Why didn't the editors make it read more smoothly? There were parts of the book that were kind of "memoirish" and the author talks about a personal experience she had that drew her to this quest. I would have liked to have learned more about that. I wonder if this topic is simply too much information for one book. Now that he has been caught I expect there will be lots more written about this in the future.

t
talk2terih
Jul 12, 2018

What a skilled, evocative writer Michelle McNamara was. The portions of the book written by McNamara shine. The portions by her devoted colleagues suffer by comparison, but still and all, it is good to have a completed book to read.
Having known previously the circumstances of her death, it makes the reading poignant. Her obsession with this story may or may not have led to her use of conflicting legal and illegal drugs, but she had internalized and focused on this case to the exclusion of other things in her life. She herself admits to forgetting her anniversary because of her fixation.
The facts of this killer and his lengthy string of victims makes for fascinating reading, and if you like true crime at all, this book is bound to appeal.

a
AnnaLiz13
Jul 11, 2018

I bought the book because it's so popular at the library that I'd have to wait too long for it!
It's wonderfully written and absolutely rivetting, and it's made so much more poignant by Michelle's tragic passing. The effort that her husband and friends put into getting it published is a testament to what a wonderful and talented woman Michelle was.

ArapahoeSiddra Jul 08, 2018

Terrifying! I had nightmares for days. I grew up during that time in a town next to San Ramon, CA and know that area very well. I liked how the author weaved in her story and obsession along with the detectives she worked with.

saima6400 Jul 02, 2018

I am a huge fan of true crime, so I may be biased, but I loved this book. Michelle McNamara is a skillful and beautiful writer. While it is true that it is a bit disjointed because of her sudden passing, I felt that it captured the way that investigating a crime is really like. The investigators have to keep looking back through information over and over again in the hopes that it will trigger something for them. It is frustrating and obsessive making and in many ways repetitive work. The most impressive thing about Michelle as a writer is that she was able to shine light on the amazing investigators that dedicate their lives seeking justice. She was able to do this by befriending them and gaining the trust of people who do not give their trust to just anyone. I would highly recommend reading it, especially because of the fact that the GSK was recently caught and there is a lot of unintended foreshadowing.

e
emmckee
Jun 29, 2018

This book was unfortunately not finished by the author, Michelle McNamara, due to her untimely death, and I think that the fact that it was pieced together by her editor and researchers was the biggest drawback to reading it.

The story is intriguing, especially for someone who has lived in the GSK's hunting ground for many years. I also enjoyed Michelle's history of the areas and I learned some fun facts about local history that I didn't know before.

It was one of the more enjoyable books I've read recently but I would have much preferred a more edited or smoothly collected book, even if it wasn't exactly how Michelle would have written it.

vm510 Jun 28, 2018

If Michelle McNamara could've been able to finish her book, it would've probably ticked all the boxes for me. Throughout, this book felt a bit jumbled to me, likely because multiple people lent themselves to writing it. I also think in general the mishmash of genres didn't answer my questions: is it a memoir as the subtitle suggests? Is it a rehashing of the crimes the GSK committed? It felt a bit choppy and directionless at times, which is understandable considering the circumstances. I think the author had the right idea about many things, including the DNA/genealogy aspect of it (which found us a suspect in 2018) and it is definitely well-researched. I think parts of her writing are captivating, too.

I also wonder if audio was the best way for me to read this... it probably wasn't, so take that into consideration. I think the HBO docuseries will likely be great.

Beatricksy Jun 23, 2018

"I have a scream permanently lodged in my throat," McNamara writes. And little wonder. This tale is horrifying, bleak, and evil. But it's hard to read for other reasons than the content. With McNamara's passing before the manuscript's completion, the overall book is unfortunately confusing and meandering. There's the sense that notes and sentences were pasted together in a first or second pass, without the editing it needed. It wanders into story cul-de-sacs that don't always pay off. The mountains of evidence start feeling samey and exhausting. The third section, written after McNamara's death, I just skimmed, desperate to be done. I feel like a voyeur myself, watching a deceased voyeur watching a killer voyeur. Voyception. I respect the research gone into this book, and McNamara is for the most part a confident author. But it didn't do much for me in the end.

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jimg2000
Apr 26, 2018

Citrus Heights where DeAngelo, 72, has been arrested on Apr 25, 2018:

(EAST AREA RAPIST . . . FEAR GRIPS SERENE NEIGHBORHOODS), a man in a leather hood entered the window of a house in Citrus Heights and sneaked up on a sixteen-year-old girl watching television alone in the den. He pointed a knife at her and issued a chilling warning:
“Make one move and you’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark.”
===
What is the lasting damage when you believe the warm spot you were just sleeping in will be your grave? Time sands the edges of the injuries, but they never lose their hold. A nameless syndrome circulates permanently through the body, sometimes long dormant, other times radiating powerful waves of pain and fear. A hand gripped her neck. A blunt-tipped weapon dug into the side of her throat. At least a dozen investigators in Northern California could have correctly predicted the first words whispered in the dark.
“Don’t move.”
“Don’t scream.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 26, 2018

In another notepad, she wrote: “Don’t underestimate the fantasy: not raping in front of men—afraid of male; functional; privacy, writhing male not part of his fantasy. Mommy and crying. No remorse. Probably part of fantasy.” There were even notes on her own psychology:
-He was a compulsive prowler and searcher. We, who hunt him, suffer from the same affliction. He peered through windows. I tap “return.” Return. Return. Click Mouse click, mouse click.
-Rats search for their own food.
-The hunt is the adrenaline rush, not the catch. He’s the fake shark in Jaws, barely seen so doubly feared.
===
AFTER PROCESSING THE HOUSE, THE POLICE SAID TO DREW WITTHUHN, “It’s yours.” The yellow tape came down; the front door closed. The impassive precision of badges at work had helped divert attention from the stain. There was no avoiding it now. His brother and sister-in-law’s bedroom was just inside the front door, directly across from the kitchen. Standing at the sink,

j
jimg2000
Apr 26, 2018

California Proposition 69, approved in 2004, which mandated DNA collection from all felons, and from adults and juveniles charged with certain crimes (e.g., sex offenses, murder, arson). Keith Harrington’s (1980 victim in Dana Point) brother Bruce sponsored the campaign, pledging nearly $2 million to fund it.
===
DNA was the thread Michelle felt was the best way to get out of the maze of the Golden State Killer. California was one of only nine states in America that allowed testing of familial DNA within the state’s database. If the GSK’s brother was arrested for a felony tomorrow, we would see a hit. But that database contains only people who have been convicted of a crime. Michelle thought she might have found the killer when she had uploaded his DNA profile to a Y-STR database available online from Ancestry.com.
===
EAR/ONS == East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

FINDING THE KILLER WITH FAMILIAL DNA

Scrolling through the rest of the 3,500 documents in Michelle’s hard drive, one comes upon a file titled “RecentDNAresults,” which features the EAR’s (East Area Rapist) Y-STR markers (short tandem repeats on the Y chromosome that establish male-line ancestry), including the elusive rare PGM marker. Having the Golden State Killer’s DNA was always the one ace up this investigation’s sleeve. But a killer’s DNA is only as good as the databases we can compare it to. There was no match in CODIS. And there was no match in the California penal system’s Y-STR database. If the killer’s father, brothers, or uncles had been convicted of a felony in the past sixteen years, an alert would have gone to Paul Holes or Erika Hutchcraft (the current lead investigator in Orange County). They would have looked into the man’s family, zeroed in on a member who was in the area of the crimes, and launched an investigation. But they had nothing.

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krsbozo
Jun 25, 2018

I have an occasional thing for True Crime, and this case has definitely caught my interest, but of course not at the same level as it captured the author's. She pursued this killer and rapist with the same level of dedication as the hardened detectives and criminalists that she profiles along with the killer. A good read, although sobering.

j
jimg2000
Apr 25, 2018

Cast of Characters
Victims:

RAPE VICTIMS
Sheila (Sacramento, 1976)
Jane Carson (Sacramento, 1976)
Fiona Williams (South Sacramento, 1977)
Kathy (San Ramon, 1978)
Esther McDonald (Danville, 1978)

MURDER VICTIMS (***DNA link tied to 4 cases --- announced Apr 25. 2018)
Claude Snelling (Visalia, 1978)
Katie and Brian Maggiore (Sacramento, 1978)
Debra Alexandria Manning and Robert Offerman (Goleta, 1979)
Charlene and Lyman Smith (Ventura, 1980) ***(DNA link)
Patrice and Keith Harrington (Dana Point, 1980)
Manuela Witthuhn (Irvine, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez (Goleta, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Janelle Cruz (Irvine, 1986) ***(DNA link)
===
Note: per wiki: The Golden State Killer is a serial killer, serial rapist and serial burglar who committed 50 rapes in Northern California during the mid-1970s and murdered twelve people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986 ...
===
Author's February 27, 2013 article for LA magazine:

http://www.lamag.com/longform/in-the-footsteps-of-a-killer/

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