I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
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As the name implies, “I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Audiobook” by Michelle McNamara relates the ten-year investigation of this woman to find out who the killer was.
As McNamara herself tells in the audiobook, she went over thousands of reports, notebooks, legal documentation, and all kinds of papers in general to achieve the chapters she wrote. The non-fictional story develops as both memoirs and an investigative procedure and depicted everything that was known about this killer.
Before this book was released, the only thing known about the many-names killer that haunted California during the 70’s-80’s was that he was unstable (sometimes even cried after attacking his victims) that he was white, 9” footprint and that his penis was small.
But when McNamara found out about this man in 2007 and renamed him as “The Golden Gate Killer”, the information began to appear. The author didn’t settle with lucubrating who could have been, but did deep research and expanded her investigations to victims, relatives, police officers who sought the case and even online sleuths and communities.
While she confessed in the audiobook how she became obsessed, the consequences took revenge; McNamara died at 46 from a heart condition and never finished the book. The last chapters were written by her fellow researcher Billy Jensen and the crime writer Paul Haynes by request of the author’s husband, comedian Patton Oswalt.
The audiobook, finished and released almost two years after McNamara's death in 2016, contributed to the recent arrest of the Golden Gate killer in April’s 2018, only two months after “I'll Be Gone in the Dark” hit the stores
Written in an obviously obsessed way but, not for that being careless, “I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Audiobook by Michelle McNamara” is a very humane confession and at the same time a well-structured investigation.
The fact that an unsolved murder occurred nearby her home when she was an adolescent awaken what she called “a Pavlovian response to the word ‘mystery’”. Then, when she found out about the Golden Gate killer in 2007, that response was triggered in her, and the writing began.
As she died without finishing the book, the narrative becomes a bit split and readers can notice the construction is a team-work. The final chapters join together pieces of documents, notes and even previous articles and interviews from McNamara, including afterwords from Oswald and an introduction by Gillian Flynn.
But perhaps the most shocking part is the epilogue where McNamara speaks directly to the killer, letting him know that she has uncovered him and that “a ski mask won’t help (him) anymore”. And it actually didn’t, as it was proven only two months after.
While it may sound cruel, the truth is that her death and the way the book had to be finished, as it was a puzzle, fits perfectly with the intention and personal obsession of the author. In the end, that stitched-together style, just like in any investigation, gives the whole audiobook a very powerful touch that may not have been possible if the author was alive.
Did the book really help to catch the Golden Gate Killer?
As anyone can see in the felt interviews Patton Oswalt gave after the arrest was made, McNamara’s obsession leads to absolutely every clue that was necessary to get the murderer.
Before she started investigating, the case was cold for decades, and after the story was known, it only took two months for cops to get him, there’s not much more to say to prove it helped.
What will happen now that the murderer has been arrested?
He’s already been accused by 8 of the murders and the police expect to charge for at least 4 more killings and 50 rape cases. The same team that helped to finish the book announced they will release an extra-final-chapter to include the arrest story and what they can find out about the killer’s life.