Jenna Bookish's Reviews > Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
53133620
's review


My thanks to Audible for allowing me free access to this audio book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. This audio book is currently an Audible Exclusive. 



True crime can be a touchy subject. What are the ethics of consuming someone else's tragedy as entertainment? Jensen's work and the way he works to essentially crowd-source murder investigations means that this book necessarily tangles with some of the thornier ethical questions surrounding true crime. The overall impression is of a man with deep respect for the wishes of families searching for answers about their loved ones; there is no hint of voyeurism or sensationalism. 

Chase Darkness with Me explores Jensen's early work as a journalist, working at the beck and call of news organizations and being told what to cover. After experiencing the shame and discomfort of being pressed to pester a grieving family for an interview, he decided to do things his own way, which would not involve sitting idly on the sidelines. Jensen began digging into unsolved crimes, using social media ads to blast targeted areas with surveillance footage, sketches of suspects, or whatever else he had to work with.  The method is simple but effective. Jensen walks the listener through the twists and turns of the cases he was able to help solve with the aid of the public and social media. 

Michelle McNamara, author of I'll be Gone in the Dark and friend of Billy Jensen, also plays a role in this book. Jensen was one of the writers who helped to complete I'll be Gone in the Dark from Michelle's notes after her sudden death in 2016. Chase Darkness with Me touches on Jensen's friendship with Michelle and his efforts to ensure that her tireless research into the then unsolved case of the Golden State Killer was not wasted. Michelle McNamara unfortunately passed away before police ever made an arrest in the case, but Jensen was able to see his friend's work come to fruition in 2018 with the arrest of James DeAngelo. (The official stance of police is that Michelle's book did not have an impact on the case, but Jensen and many of Michelle's fans have their doubts.) 

The book is as much a call to action as it is storytelling, with an addendum outlining the do's and don'ts for readers who may want to do investigative work of their own. Jensen's rules place the wishes of the victims' families at the forefront and also emphasize the importance of backing off when police have a suspect in their sights; the last thing anyone investigating a crime wants to do is give the culprit a heads-up that they're being watched closely and cause them to run. While extra-judicial investigative work is necessarily controversial, Jensen clearly adheres to a strict set of guidelines which maximize his chance of being an asset rather than a liability. 

Chase Darkness with Me is true crime at its best, told with utmost care and compassion for the victims of each case. It's not true crime writing in the typical sense, as the author has inserted himself into these stories in a much more direct manner than most writers, but I think the writing is stronger for it. Each case is intensely personal to Jensen and this absolutely shines through in the final product.

You can read all of my reviews on my blog, Jenna Bookish!
Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
11 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Chase Darkness with Me.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

April 17, 2019 – Shelved
April 17, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
April 18, 2019 – Started Reading
April 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sara (new)

Sara This sounds really good, I enjoyed I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, so I might have to add this one to my TBR. Great review.


back to top