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

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  135,977 ratings  ·  13,609 reviews
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 sexu
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ebook, 352 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Harper
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Charlotte I'm surprised anyone in California managed to get a single minute of sleep while he was active. I live in Denmark, it's 2018 and I was afraid to get u…moreI'm surprised anyone in California managed to get a single minute of sleep while he was active. I live in Denmark, it's 2018 and I was afraid to get up and go to the bathroom last night. (less)
Melissa It was DNA. Someone who's related to the killer uploaded their ancestry DNA data from 23andMe to another site. The data was available to the public an…moreIt was DNA. Someone who's related to the killer uploaded their ancestry DNA data from 23andMe to another site. The data was available to the public and obtained by authorities and the connection was a match. Amazing. (less)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  135,977 ratings  ·  13,609 reviews


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Emily May
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: Pretty much everyone who works at Goodreads
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018
“He loses his power when we know his face.”

And, it seems, we now do.

I can see why everyone speaks so highly of this book. It is a very impressive piece of investigative journalism, whether true crime stories happen to be your cup of tea or not. What makes I'll Be Gone in the Dark stand out - and what you might have seen come up time and again in other people's reviews - is that the writer is perhaps as fascinating as the subject.

It is the late Michelle McNamara at the centre of this piece -
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Kemper
**Update 4/26/2018 - When this book was published it was an unsolved mystery. It got a happy ending yesterday.**

I'd heard about Michelle McNamara before I even knew her name or that she was a true crime writer. She was married to comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, who I’m a big fan of, and several of his bits over the years have involved his wife. Per Patton’s descriptions in his routines she was a brilliant woman, far smarter than him, who was always operating at a whole other level.

Now I know what
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Will Byrnes
That summer I hunted the serial killer at night from my daughter’s playroom. For the most part I mimicked the bedtime routine of a normal person. Teeth brushed. Pajamas on. But after my husband and daughter fell asleep, I’d retreat to my makeshift workspace and boot up my laptop, that fifteen-inch-wide hatch of endless possibilities…I rarely moved but I leaped decades with a few keystrokes. Yearbooks. Marriage certificates. Mug shots. I scoured thousands of pages of 1970s-era police files. I po
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viktoria
ETA 4/25/18 in the most holy crap, hopeful, bawling kind of way:

I hope you got him, Michelle.

I hope THEY got him. #IllBeGoneInTheDark #MichelleMcNamara #stepintothelight https://t.co/ewq3NyCz56

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 25, 2018


I'm not crying. You're crying.

Original Review, 11/16/17:

Confession: I'm what you would call a murderino.



I listen to My Favorite Murder religiously, I watch the hell out of Investigation Discovery (City Confidential is amazing), and I listen to a few other
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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
(3.5) An interesting topic, an impressive woman and research... but not my jam.

I would recommend the audiobook as I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if I had read it myself!
Emma Giordano
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
A very enjoyable read!

TW: graphic depictions of rape/assault/murder

Though true crime is a great field of interest to me, I haven't read many books of this variety. I was pleasantly satisfied with my time reading I'll Be Gone In The Dark. The narration was vivid and engaging. I appreciated the feeling of it being almost like a memoir from McNamara's perspective rather than just stating facts about the case.

My only struggle with the book was that it was hard to keep track of EACH victim and EACH
...more
Chelsea Humphrey
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Incredible. It was a pleasure to listen to this following the capture of Joseph Deangelo, and it's excruciating to think that Michelle was so close to unveiling one of the most notorious serial rapists and murderers in US history. If you haven't managed to snag this one yet, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook if that's your thing; all the narrators were beyond excellent and audible has all the pdf downloads available to view alongside while listening. Highly recommended for fans of tr ...more
Matthew
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime Fans
Update 8/11/2019 - I just finished the new season of Veronica Mars on Hulu. In it, Patton Oswalt plays a character who is obsessed with solving cold cases and other crimes the police are struggling with. As soon as I realized that is what his character was and how much it reminded me of his wife as described in this book, I began to wonder if he was offered the role as a tribute to her . . .

4.25 stars

I guarantee you will not be able to read this book without many stops to do Wikipedia and Google
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Julie
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara is a 2018 Harper publication.

No butler, no second maid, no blood upon the stair. No eccentric aunt, no gardener, no family friend smiling among the bric-a-brac-and murder. Only a suburban house with the front door open and a dog barking at a squirrel, and the cars passing. The corpse quite dead. The wife in Florida. Consider the clues: the potato masher in a vase, the torn photograph of a Wes
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I had a feeling I would be the dissenting opinion on this one right from the start when the author performed a Google search for some stolen cufflinks based off of a sketch (not an actual picture) and swore she found the exact items (for a bargain price of $8 even) and that she would be able to identify the original owner/identify the perp due to the fact that “names starting with the letter N” weren’t very prevalent on the Top 100 Bab
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karen
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best nonfiction 2018! what will happen?

fulfilling book riot's 2018 read harder challenge task #2: A book of true crime

no extry points this time.

there’s almost no point in my writing a content-based review of this book - i’m late to the party and better folks than me have already admirably and exhaustively covered both what the book is about and the unusual circumstances occurring beyond its covers - michelle mcnamara’s sudden death two years before
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Tammy
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This one didn’t quite do it for me. I found the story interesting because I knew absolutely nothing about this killer that got away (not a spoiler). The development of the methodologies to apprehend criminals was fascinating and many of the terms are commonplace today. It’s an uneven book and I found myself mentally re-writing sentences for clarity. The messy sentences (in places) may be the result of piecing together a book from the deceased author’s notes and trying to retain her voice. It’s w ...more
j e w e l s
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bejeweled
FIVE STARS

My queen, Gillian Flynn, starts this book with a Midwestern twang and down-to-earth introduction; Patton Oswalt ends with a heart-rending final chapter and I was spellbound the entire time by Michelle McNamara's non-fiction novel.

A mind-blowing mountain of evidence to sift through and present in one novel only slightly frightened Michelle McNamara. What truly frightened her and kept her awake at night was the fact that the Golden State Killer has gotten away with his 10 year reign of t
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Christina - Traveling Sister
5, well I'll be sleeping with a baseball bat forever now stars!!!

🎶Everyday I'm feeling fine,
Drinking wine,
Forever reading true crime
🎶

This starts with an introduction by juggernaut thriller author Gillian Flynn and ends with a heartbreaking and beautiful epilogue by McNamara's husband and esteemed actor Patton Oswalt. What happens in-between was pure, unadulterated journalistic *magic*.

“Writing this now, I’m struck by two incompatible truths that pain me. No one would have taken more joy from th
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Diane S ☔
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 captivating and incredibly creepy. One would have had to have been in a news blackout, at least here in the states, to have not heard about the long overdue capture of the rapist and murderer, called the Golden State killer. This book is do well researched, an in-depth expose of all the incidents, the evidence collected and the many areas in California where this killer roamed. It was presented in a clear, concise and very interesting way. Yes, there is repetition, but it would be hard not e ...more
Larry H
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since its publication earlier this year, some have asked whether Michelle McNamara's utterly engrossing true crime book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark , would be as popular if McNamara, the wife of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, hadn't died suddenly while writing the book in 2016. While that tragedy certainly raised the book's profile, the fact is, this is a tremendously well-written and compelling book, worthy of every bit of acclaim it's gotten. It's just sad McNamara isn't around to apprecia ...more
Erin
UPDATE: An arrest has been made, 72 year old Joseph James DeAngelo a former police officer.

This book is easily one of the best True Crimes books I have ever read.

The first time I remember hearing about Michelle McNamara was on an episode of 48 Hours and the only reason I watched that episode was because I recognized her husband Patton Oswalt. His first name is my last name and for that reason I've always liked him. The 48 Hours episode was about his wife Michelle and her dogged pursuit of a pro
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Megan Abbott
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting for this book for a long time, having been a fan of McNamara's True Crime Diary blog (http://www.truecrimediary.com). While she hadn't finished it before her death, it is a remarkable book--both in terms of its investigative power and its superb, precise prose (and an excellent intro by Gillian Flynn and a poignant afterword by Patton Oswalt). But what makes it so special is how it becomes this living testament to the drive, strength and power of its author, a portrait of how h ...more
Malia
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was very wary of reading this book, because it just sounded so, so creepy and when I bought it, the killer had not yet been caught. Yet when he was recently found, after so many years, I felt compelled to know the background and read the book. It is a tragic story, made all the more so because its passionate, persistent author did not live to see this man's arrest, something she so badly wished for. This story is so disturbing, I could not get it out of my head and I could definitely not read ...more
Debra
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
“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.” -Stephen King

Had Michelle McNamara lived, I think she would have been proud of how well this book has been received, but I think she would have been even more moved to see that the man
...more
Matt
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“One day soon, you’ll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You’ll hear footsteps coming up your front walk. Like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards, twenty-nine years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks, thirty years after he killed Lori Billingsley, in Aloha, Oregon.

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. In
...more
Taylor
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was my most highly anticipated book of 2018, and the first book I ever preordered. I didn't want to run the risk of a waiting list at my local library, and knew I would want to read it the second it was available. I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara arrived on my doorstep February 27. Yesterday, March 8, I finally finished it. At 328 pages and in my favorite genre of true crime, I didn't initially suspect it would take me o ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reviews of this book were terrific from the get go - once available for readers....
yet, my husband said....”don’t do it”. “Why do you need to read a book about a killer/serial rapist who committed crimes in the area where you lived as a young
single female in the 70’s and 80’?” “Wasn’t it frightening enough - for real- back then? Oh yes, it was! So.... I stayed away from this book - until a friend gave me the hardcopy back in May of this year. I still didn’t read it right away as you can see....
...more
Lucy Langford
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark."

In this book McNamara gives an unflinching account of the Golden State Killer, the mysterious boogeyman who burgled, raped and murdered his way through California.
This book was divided into three parts; Book 1, details of the crimes and the victims: Book 2, details of the investigators (from forensic scientists, detectives, criminologists and witnesses) and the investigation: Book 3, covers further profiling such as geographic (this part
...more
Johann (jobis89)
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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."

A portrait of a woman's obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. I'll Be Gone in the Dark is the masterpiece that Michelle McNamara was working on when she tragically passed away in 2016. It's a chilling account of a criminal mastermind, The Golden State Killer, and the wreckage he left behind.

This was one of those
...more
Sara
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
You may be wondering or not why I read such a book, and my explantion is because serial killers and murders sparks my interest ,It always blows my mind how investigators and many others work on a murder case and I find that realy intresting , this book let you see that aspect but also so many other things even pictures and the behind 'the scene's', and I realy where absorbed by this, glad they catched him and huge respect for the people who made it all posible , huge big 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Gabby
I listened to the audiobook for this and I thought it was fantastic! I have been trying to get into more true crime and I’ve heard great things about this one, and I didn’t know anything about the golden state killer so I decided to read this one. This author and her obsessive search for this killer was incredibly fascinating to read about. I loved the forward by Gillian Flynn, and I love the style this book was written in. I don’t know what else to say other than that this book was very fascina ...more
Dem
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
The words of the Song by Irish Band Aslan ". How can I protect you in this Crazy World" kept coming into my mind when I was reading this book. How could could a husband, the police, neighbours friends, mothers or fathers protect their loved ones from a deranged screwed up monster like this who appeared to be one step ahead of authorities all the time.

A word of warning I wouldn't recommend this book for any woman who lives alone as while it might make a reader a little more security conscious
...more
Erin
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook performed by Gabra Zackman 9h 45 min One of my favorite Audiobook reads this year won a Goodreads Choice!

Phenomenal! This is the word that has been on my mind since I completed the Audiobook just moments ago. Like Michelle McNamara, I too, found myself completely obsessed by the case of the Golden State Killer. In fact, I was so captivated that after listening for 5 hours yesterday, my 5am wake up call this morning saw me jumping right out of bed to get back to the story. Although this
...more
Ginger
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, audio
5 stars!! What an excellent book!

If you love true crime, you’ll love I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. This book reads as if a true crime book and a memoir had a baby.
It works though and it's great!

Damn, I wish Michelle McNamara had lived long enough to see Detective Paul Holes arrest the Golden State Killer aka the East Area Rapist (EAR). This is the part of the book that makes me sad since she died before the EAR was caught.

I can just imagine how McNamara would have felt in delivering justice to the v
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Michelle McNamara was a screenwriter, journalist, and true crime writer. She was the founder of the blog "True Crime Diary," which covers lesser-known crimes and cold cases. In 2005, she married comedian Patton Oswalt. They had one daughter together, born in 2009. ...more

Articles featuring this book

Twists, turns, and whodunits. We pride ourselves on recommending some great mysteries and thrillers here at the Goodreads office. So, we decided...
128 likes · 64 comments
“One day soon, you’ll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You’ll hear footsteps coming up your front walk. Like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards, twenty-nine years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks, thirty years after he killed Lori Billingsley, in Aloha, Oregon.

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.”
106 likes
“I love reading true crime, but I’ve always been aware of the fact that, as a reader, I am actively choosing to be a consumer of someone else’s tragedy. So like any responsible consumer, I try to be careful in the choices I make. I read only the best: writers who are dogged, insightful, and humane.” 58 likes
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