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

Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
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really liked it
bookshelves: e-book, netgalley, non-fiction, true-crime, 2019

Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen is a 2019 Sourcebooks publication.

Gripping and personal journey into true crime reporting and crime solving-

The sheer number of cases that remain unsolved are mind numbing. We often focus on the crimes that make the big headlines, but for every one of those, there are numerous others that never make a blip on the public’s consciousness. Some cases go viral, such as the one where an innocent man is knocked unconscious, then hit by a car, then robbed while he lay in the street. Although the crime was recorded, finding the man who assaulted the victim took a long time, with many dead-end leads, and required much tenacity, patience, and a very sharp eye.

For Billy Jensen helping to solve the lesser known cold cases has become his life’s work. He is still a writer and journalist, but what he writes about is unsolved crimes. He became friends with fellow cold case/true crime advocate, Michelle McNamara, and he helped to complete her book after her untimely death.

In this book, Jensen explains how he became a crime reporter, his personal background, and even exposes his single-minded fixation on solving crimes, helping law enforcement, and bringing some closure to the victim's families, who at this point, just want to know the truth.

His heady exhilaration at having helped law enforcement close the books on a case is what keeps him from losing faith when so many cases hit a brick wall.

One thing that we can all agree on is that despite all the perils of social media, without it, and the advances in DNA and forensics, murderers and rapists like the Golden State Killer, might never have been caught. Jensen outlines the way he uses social media and the internet, in general, to help solve crimes.

It’s a fascinating story, and you have to hand it to the guy. He’s like a dog with a bone when he gets started on a story or case and he doesn’t turn loose of it, even when it looks as if he’s just chasing his own tale. This dedication might also be described as an obsession, though.

One issue I had with the book, and it is the same issue I had with McNamara’, is the layout and organization of the book. The flow is uneven, as Jensen seems unsure of when to insert something poignant or personal, which came off as feeling a little too forced and awkward. The timing is a bit off in that area, but I did enjoy some of the nostalgia from the seventies he spoke of. Adding personal antidotes was something that worked for McNamara, but not so much here, I think.

The other issue I have with the book is with the last portion, which is a DIY tutorial on amateur sleuthing and crime solving.

Because it goes without saying that law enforcement agencies nationwide are overwhelmed, it may have gotten to the point where it now takes a village to help solve crimes. It never hurts to be informed, prepared, aware, and alert. I do not have a problem with people logging onto to social media to study crime, cold cases, or missing persons profiles. Sometimes a citizen’s hyper-awareness could help save a life.

In many ways, I greatly admire Jensen and what he does. Without him, some crimes, and murders would mostly likely have remained unsolved.

That said-

While I read a great deal of true crime, and do follow certain specific cases, I keep my concerns and interest in the proper perspective.

Too many people interfering in official police investigations could backfire spectacularly. While Jensen found the internet and social media to be a huge asset, we all know by now that it is also packed with erroneous and harmful information, which could hinder, instead of help, solve a crime. It could also be very dangerous, opening oneself up to scams or cons or even physical harm. It could lead to false accusations as well, and we know that even a hint of such a thing can ruin a life in an instant.

So, I’m thinking this is a bit of a slippery slope and I’m not entirely comfortable with Jensen encouraging the general public to follow his chosen path. Putting oneself out there, interviewing victim’s families and the heart wrenching, day to day, drudge of following a lead that turned out to be nothing, is an emotional drain that can be mentally draining, and quite damaging… just take a look at the toll it took on Michelle McNamara.

I’m not saying Jensen glorified his work or sugarcoated anything, as the cases he examines are truly horrifying and one gets a glimpse at the cost the author pays, and the sacrifices his family must endure for him to be successful at what he does.

In my humble opinion, climbing into that dark, murky world, and becoming- shall we say- devoted- to the exclusion of all else in life can’t be all that healthy.

Still, I did find this book to be very interesting, and absorbing, overall, sans the DYI bits. Although I don’t necessarily recommend we all jump into the boat along with him, I’m glad Jensen has had success as a reporter, author, and amateur sleuth and hope that as he continues his work, he will at long last solve some of the cases that continue to haunt him.

3.5 stars
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Reading Progress

May 17, 2019 – Shelved
May 17, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
August 20, 2019 – Shelved as: e-book
August 20, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
August 20, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
August 20, 2019 – Shelved as: true-crime
September 14, 2019 – Started Reading
September 14, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
September 14, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
October 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Great review!


Julie Deborah wrote: "Great review!"

Thank you very much, Deborah!! 💖


message 3: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Ooh this sounds really good Julie, wonderful review 💕🤗


Julie Maureen wrote: "Ooh this sounds really good Julie, wonderful review 💕🤗"

Thank you, Maureen!! If you liked 'I'll be Gone in the Dark' or True Crime, you might like this one! 💖


Marialyce I felt the very same, perhaps criminal chasing is best left to those trained to do so. Wonderfully detailed review, Julie.


message 6: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Great review, Julie! I agree, I'm not sure someone with just a casual interest should jump into investigating these things! It could definitely be detrimental to oneself, as well as derailing an investigation that could be in progress. The public is not always aware of what is going on in an investigation... what if the amateur tipped a suspect off unintentionally?


Julie Marialyce wrote: "I felt the very same, perhaps criminal chasing is best left to those trained to do so. Wonderfully detailed review, Julie."

Thank you very much, Marialyce!! 💖


Julie Amy wrote: "Great review, Julie! I agree, I'm not sure someone with just a casual interest should jump into investigating these things! It could definitely be detrimental to oneself, as well as derailing an in..."

Thank you, Amy! Actually, that almost happened to this author. Thankfully, the police were aware of his efforts and asked him to back off- but things were still a bit dicey. 😳


message 9: by Ceecee (new)

Ceecee Sounds very interesting and I think your reservations are spot on. Great review Julie 🤗


Julie Ceecee wrote: "Sounds very interesting and I think your reservations are spot on. Great review Julie 🤗"

Thank you, Ceecee!! 💖😊💖


message 11: by Kaceey (new)

Kaceey Excellent review Julie!🤗💖📚


Julie Kaceey wrote: "Excellent review Julie!🤗💖📚"

Thank you, Kaceey!! 💖


message 13: by Babydimps (Suzy) (new)

Babydimps (Suzy) Fantastic review Julie! 🌸😊


message 14: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Fabulous review, Julie! This sounds interesting!


Julie Babydimps (Suzy) wrote: "Fantastic review Julie! 🌸😊"

Thank you, Suzy!! 💖


message 16: by Kat (new)

Kat Valentine Fantabulous review Julie!!😉💖👍💞


Sumit RK Excellent Review! 👍


Julie Kat wrote: "Fantabulous review Julie!!😉💖👍💞"

Thank you, dearest Kat!! 💖😊💖


Julie Sumit wrote: "Excellent Review! 👍"

Thank you, Sumit!! 😊😊


Vaishali • [Vicarious Living] Amazing review Julie 😊
This seems interesting 💕


message 21: by Paromjit (new)

Paromjit Brilliant, Julie! xx


Julie Vaishali • [Vicarious Living] wrote: "Amazing review Julie 😊
This seems interesting 💕"


Thank you, Vaishali!! 💖😊💖


Julie Paromjit wrote: "Brilliant, Julie! xx"

Thank you, Paromjit!! 💖


Debbie Excellent review, Julie! You liked it more than I did, but we share the gripe about the DIY section at the end. I think it’s a really bad idea to encourage the public to solve crimes—for all the reasons you outline. In fact, I went on quite a rant about it!


Julie Debbie wrote: "Excellent review, Julie! You liked it more than I did, but we share the gripe about the DIY section at the end. I think it’s a really bad idea to encourage the public to solve crimes—for all the re..."

Thank you, Debbie!! The book wasn't too bad until the last section. It was poorly organized, but interesting. But, I strongly agree with you. It's a very bad idea for people, who are not trained professionals, to get involved in something so potentially dangerous.😳


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