Beginning in 1976, a ruthless predator dubbed “The East Area Rapist” terrorized Northern California committing nearly five dozen violent sexual assaults. Thought to have disappeared following his last recorded attack in 1979, it was discovered in 2001, through the linking of DNA evidence, that he had moved to Southern California and become a serial killer known as the “Original Night Stalker”.
Years later journalist Michelle McNamara, determined to finally uncover his identity, dubbed him the Golden State Killer and began work on a book that would explore the decade-long crime spree. McNamara spent countless hours sorting through police reports, nabbing interviews with those close to the crimes and connecting with several online amateur sleuths who were just as obsessed as she was. Unfortunately and tragically, Michelle passed away in 2016 prior to finishing her work. Through the assistance of her lead researcher as well as a close colleague an effort was put forth to complete the book.
The narrative put forth by Michelle is easily digestible despite the dark subject matter; which says a lot about her ability to grip her audience. Other portions of the book are comprised of magazine articles penned by Michelle about the GSK as well as notes and theories composed by Michelle injected by those tasked with finishing her work.
Sadly, I had only learned of McNamara and “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” after she had passed. However, the buzz that surrounded its forthcoming release had me very interested and eager to pick it up. I was not disappointed. The amount of work, the passion and exhaustive research put in by McNamara is the sole reason for the book’s success. She truly believed that if enough effort was put in, she could bring to light the name of the man responsible. It’s regrettable that she will not be able to see the true impact of her work, but if the killer is ever identified, a debt of gratitude would be owed to her.