My suspicions that true crime really isn’t my thing has been confirmed by reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. It’s incredibly upsetting reading this knowing these horrific acts happened to real people and I couldn’t help thinks how dying whilst in fear for the person you love must be one of the worst ways to go. Both Popsugar and Read Harder require true crime books this year, so I made myself read this, and you should bear that in mind whilst reading this review. I’m sure fans of the genre will gobble it up.
The hunt to find the Golden State Killer, spanning nearly four decades, felt less like a relay race than a group of fanatics tethered together climbing an impossible mountain.
I didn’t know much about the Golden State Killer, or East Area Rapist (EAR) or Original Night Stalker (ONS) as he was also known. It was too long ago and too far away to reach my sphere of paying attention, but it is clear from reading this book that whole communities lived in a state of terror for years. One of the worst things must have been that he struck couple in their own home. You should feel safe behind locked doors with the person you chose to spend your life with.
Whilst I didn’t like reading about the crimes themselves, I was more interested in the investigation and ongoing support for it from cold case enthusiasts. At several times I wondered if things would have been different these days. Would news spread and links be made much sooner? Would houses be so easy to break into? Would surveillance and DNA technology trip him up?
That means that women exist who, because of change of schedule, or luck, were never victims, but like the Creature’s shapely object of obsession treading in the lagoon, they felt something terrifying brush against them.
Throughout the book you see how the case was kept alive by advancements in forensic technology, with DNA linking more cases than anyone ever thought possible. You may have heard the suspect has been arrested this year, although that is not included in the book. Sadly Michelle died before she could finish the book or see the killer brought to justice. It definitely feels unfinished, and there is a big difference between the fully fleshed out chapters and the parts that have been pieced together from notes.
It does come across that Michelle sees the victims as people and not just pieces of a puzzle. Maybe that’s why it’s so upsetting, beacuse she is not clinical in describing the crimes. She also touches on the impact of the rapes on the survivors, as not every couple was murdered. The book is also part memoir, as she comes to terms with what has become an obsession for her.
Falling for a suspect is a lot like the first surge of blind love in a relationship. Focus narrows to a single face. The world and its practical sounds are a wan soundtrack to the powerful silent biopic you’re editing in your mind at all times. No amount of information on the object of your obsession is enough.
I felt the introduction from Gillian Flynn was a bit pointless, it just regurgitated bits from the rest of the book, but I imagine it was put there to help sell the book. In the end, it turns out that catching the killer was the biggest publicity jackpot they could have hoped for. I’d be interested to see if they publish an updated edition once a conviction has been made.
Read Harder: A book of true crime
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 2. True crime
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Book Source: Purchased
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