May 20th, 2018

spock: logic is sexy

Book Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Title: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Genre: True Crime

The story: The Golden State Killer, who was recently captured with the help of a DNA website, was among the most prolific serial killers in America. Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt's late wife, was an amateur detective drawn into the case by an internet message board. Over the course of several years, she became an unofficial partner in the investigation and began writing a book about her quest before the killer. She died of an accidental overdose before the book could be completed, and Oswalt hired another writer to finish it for her.

My review: This book hooked me from the first sentence: That summer I stalked the killer from my daughter's playroom. While the lurid details of the Golden State Killer's crimes are riveting, what sets this book apart is McNamara's beautiful prose and her empathy for the victims. There's a story within a story within a story -- the investigation, McNamara's obsession with it, and the book's life after her death. Notes tell you which sections were reconstructed by the writer Oswalt hired, and some chapters are transcripts of interviews she conducted by never got to write up. The whole book is suffused with poignancy because you know the investigation killed her. McNamara was so disturbed by what she learned that, unbeknownst to her husband, she began self-medicating with a cocktail of prescription drugs. This combination ultimately killed her. The book is an odd yet beautiful tribute to her life, and the lives of the Golden State Killer's victims.