Kelly (and the Book Boar)'s Reviews > I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
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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 Baby Names list at the time and also thought it was perfectly reasonable to Ziploc baggie the things and present them to the police (because DNA evidence would still be present 30 years later??? Zoinks). I stopped watching Nancy Grace once my firstborn started sleeping through the night and I wasn’t held prisoner by the lack of viewing options at 2:00 a.m., thank you very much.

I feel I need to disclose that I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Patton Oswalt’s book . . . . that I still have not read because he broke what is left of my dried out rotten apple of a heart when his wife died unexpectedly and he shared how shattered he was and I can’t bear to even think about picking the damn thing up to this day. That being said, I understand why getting I’ll Be Gone In The Dark to print was so important to him. But it’s MY belief that reviews should be honest - and honestly??? I don’t get the hype. I don’t think McNamara’s writing is particularly brilliant unless you are interested in what type of clothing and music were popular at the time of a crime rather than details of the cases (not to mention the fact that she only wrote half of it before she died, making it EXTREMELY choppy); the timeline itself is 100% disjointed and hops from past to future to past again without rhyme or reason; despite the “EAR” or “ONS” or “EAR/ONS” being responsible for 50+ crimes hardly any are covered in this book; and last, but certainly not least, McNamara doesn’t seem to have had too much insight into the case at all, but rather an obsession/borderline addiction where conjecture rules and fellow couch commandos are considered experts (if you’ve ever been on a site like Websleuths or the like, you’ll know the exact opposite is true).

Bottom line is: I don’t think this would have ever been published were it not for her husband being famous and making it happen as part of his grieving process. Good news for everyone involved is that the Golden State Killer wound up being caught which gave I’ll Be Gone In The Dark new life and a sort of cult following and very few people who want to go on record as “poo poo-ing” it due to McNamara’s untimely death. Obviously I drank the Kool-Aid because I read the thing too. I’m just also willing to shit on everyone else’s sundae.
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Reading Progress

May 24, 2018 – Started Reading
May 24, 2018 – Shelved
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: everyone-loved-it-but-me
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: i-read-it-wrong
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: im-a-lemming
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: liburrrrrry-book
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: read-in-2018
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: the-great-white-hype
May 29, 2018 – Shelved as: super-meh
May 29, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Char (new) - added it

Char Thank you for this honest review. I've been thinking about picking this one up, because in my younger days, I was all over true crime and the works of Jack Olsen, (awesome true crime writer back in the day), and later on the works of the FBI guys like John Douglas and Robert Ressler.
Judging by what you have written, this would not have worked for me at all. I thought it was going to be a laid out straight investigative work.


Kelly (and the Book Boar) I think I should have paid more attention to the title. This is truly MICHELLE MCNAMARA'S story and not that of the actual rapist/murderer. If I would have approached it more like her memoir rather than thinking of it as a true crime novel I might have given it a higher rating. But maybe not, because I could also see myself getting super judgmental about the fact that due to her being married to a famous person she was allowed to shirk (or not have to begin with) day-to-day obligations in order to spend all day on Google.


Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You sadly, i think the book gets raves because of the author's death, which is sad. her death, not the fact it gets raves. still, i tire of "famous" people getting props for their output merely because they are "famous". yeah, that sounds mean, but come on peeps! if "non-famous" people had the support/backing think how many great things could come to light... i'm just not starstruck, and think people spend too much energy following the lives of "famous" people instead of doing their own thing...


message 4: by Char (new) - added it

Char I guess I didn't pick up on the meaning of the title either. Thanks again. :)


Kelly (and the Book Boar) James wrote: "sadly, i think the book gets raves because of the author's death, which is sad. her death, not the fact it gets raves. still, i tire of "famous" people getting props for their output merely because..."

I agree 100% James. If it weren't for the author dying and the push by Patton Oswalt for publication I am curious if this would have ever made it to print at all. It appears her "writing" career was mainly in the form of a blog and I'm living proof you don't have to have any talent to write one of those LOL!


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Char wrote: "I guess I didn't pick up on the meaning of the title either. Thanks again. :)"

Oh that makes me feel better! I thought I was the only one missing a big ol' clue ; )


Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You :)
what we all wouldn't do to have our book published while we google for clues to a string of murders... if the police haven't learned how to use the internet yet, maybe that's why they have so much time to shoot black people and people of color daily... i wonder who decides what deaths matter? hmmm...


message 8: by Vivian (new)

Vivian Fine parting words, my dear. Yikes.


message 10: by Sam (new)

Sam Quixote I read a few pages of this one and gave up. Just from those pages alone, McNamara’s writing style felt extremely self-absorbed and seemed to be less about the case than about Michelle writing about her boring life and how obsessive she could be – tedium personified.

And the people saying that she contributed to the Golden State Killer’s recent arrest are being completely disingenuous – her book did nothing. A relative of the killer did a 23andMe DNA test and that led to the killer’s arrest – it was just a coincidence that McNamara’s book came out at the same time!


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Sam wrote: "I read a few pages of this one and gave up. Just from those pages alone, McNamara’s writing style felt extremely self-absorbed and seemed to be less about the case than about Michelle writing about..."

If those people have actually read the book they'd know that NONE of her guesses as to ANYTHING regarding "her suspect" ended up being accurate.


message 12: by Ana O (new)

Ana O Oh shoot.... I had such high hopes for this book.


message 13: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Oh, bummer. I can’t say I’m surprised, though. I’ve been putting this off because I had a feeling I would be disappointed, but was secretly hoping that it would be a work of genius.

Maybe now that he’s been caught, someone else can write a more coherent novel, because I do find the whole story fascinating.

Thank you, Kelly, for your honest review. I can cancel my library hold for something better now. ;)


Kelly (and the Book Boar) It may still be enjoyable if you know what you're getting into before reading it. The more I found out about the author after her death, the less I found I could enjoy her story : (


Jenner This. This review is spot on.


Caroline Bracco I love true crime, but I was really disappointed. Sort of silly.


Mizuki 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 Baby Names list at the time and also thought it was perfectly reasonable to Ziploc baggie the things and present them to the police (because DNA evidence would still be present 30 years later??? Zoinks)

Nice point, I found this part of the author's 'research' problematic too.


Mizuki Kelly (and the Book Boar) wrote: "But maybe not, because I could also see myself getting super judgmental about the fact that due to her being married to a famous person she was allowed to shirk (or not have to begin with) day-to-day obligations in order to spend all day on Google."

That's also spot-on. I like true crime too, but even if I had a famous husband and I happened to have that much spare time to obsesses over a serial killer, I won't do that.

To tell the true, I almost feel sorry for her daughter. It is mentioned in the book that the girl was having nightmares and I'm like...whose fault is that!?


message 19: by Wai (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wai this is exactly how I felt when I finished this book!


message 20: by Lana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lana Wow I have just finished and was scouring through the reviews to find one that matched how I felt.
I totally agree with you, MAJORLY over-rated - I can't believe all of these 5 stars!


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