I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (Michelle McNamara)

I’m back! It’s been a couple of busy months where I had to step back from blogging, but I’m pleased to say I’m back to posting and even more importantly, back to doing more reading.

Now, I’ve been into true crime for a very long time. The thing I remember really kicking it off for me was the disappearance of the Springfield 3 back in 1992. That summer, I recall spending time in my grandmother’s yard with my cousins and being absolutely convinced we were going to find the three missing women (in the old mill across the street, because our search options were limited… not that we would have ever gone inside). I’ve had a few other experiences that have fed into this, but that was definitely the beginning.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the effin glorious My Favorite Murder podcast.  I’m pretty certain that Karen and Georgia need to be my new best friends. My new life goal is to go drink wine and talk murder with them. Some days it seemed like laughing and dropping f-bombs with them was the only thing helping me to hold it together during my move. If you are into podcasts or true crime and you haven’t already, check them out.

I was aware of Michelle McNamara before, but that was about it. On MFM they talk about her several times in the early episodes which made me realize, “Hey, you should probably check her out.” I’m SO glad I did.

For those of you who might have managed to miss out on hearing about it, I’ll Be Gone In the Dark is Michelle McNamara’s book on the Golden State Killer. This is a massive simplification. It was an obsession. McNamara passed away suddenly in April of 2016 without finishing the book. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, wanted to make sure that the world got to read it and pushed to get the book finished. Thank goodness he did.

The entire book is made all the more poignant where you come across sections that were pieced together from her notes or from articles she had previously written. A section at the end of the book was written by Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen in an effort to tie up the loose ends of the book left by McNamara’s untimely death (the change in tone DID make that part of the book much more dry) but it was clear that there were still so many avenues that she wanted to explore. The world has definitely lost a truly magnificent voice.

Generally, even the most interesting of true crime books has a tendency towards being a little dry in parts, things get repetitive or maybe they get into nitty gritty investigative details. The only bit in I’ll Be Gone in the Dark that felt that way was the part that Michelle McNamara did not write. The majority of the book reads almost like a really good mystery novel, making it very hard to put down. She particularly excels with descriptions. This wasn’t a case that I had ever found myself particularly interested in, but holy cow, once I started, I had to know more. Michelle’s passion for the topic is evident in every paragraph. Even if you think the know the case, read this book.

There is a letter at the end of the book McNamara wrote to the Golden State Killer. She passed away and the book was published before Joseph James DeAngelo was finally arrested April 24, 2018. While officials say that her work didn’t contribute to his capture, it’s hard to believe that the attention she drew to the case did not put renewed pressure on detectives to solve it. One can only hope that somehow he read it and knows that Michelle McNamara’s determination helped lock him up.

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