I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Book - 2018
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"For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the ... website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called 'the Golden State Killer.' Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was"- Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062319784
Characteristics: xvi, 328 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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Adult Book Discussion: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Join Edgebrook for a discussion of I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. Copies of the book will be available at Edgebrook Library's reference desk on Wednesday, April 28th.How to AttendThis event takes place on Zoom. Only one registration per household is needed. You’ll receive an email with a link to the secure Zoom meeting abo... (more)

Book Discussion: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Join us as we discuss I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. The book recounts a true crime journalist's account of her search for the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade.Copies of the book are available on the 6th floor Reference Desk at the Harold Washington Library Center.How to... (more)

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From Library Staff

Winner, Best Critical/Biographical

At the time of her death, Michelle McNamara was working on a book about the still unsolved case of the Golden State Killer. Mere months after the posthumous publication of McNamara's engrossing, assiduously researched book, a suspect has been arrested for the numerous sexual assaults and murders ... Read More »

At the time of her death, Michelle McNamara was working on a book about the still unsolved case of the Golden State Killer. Mere months after the posthumous publication of McNamara's engrossing, assiduously researched book, a suspect has been arrested for the numerous sexual assaults and murders ... Read More »

Edgar Nominee, Best Fact Crime

At the time of her death, Michelle McNamara was working on a book about the still unsolved case of the Golden State Killer. Mere months after the posthumous publication of McNamara's engrossing, assiduously researched book, a suspect has been arrested for the numerous sexual assaults and murders ... Read More »

From the critics

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Mar 15, 2021

I was disappointed by this true crime book. One of the main reasons concerns the fact that Ms. McNamara never finished the book. She died in 2016 from complications of the combination of the medications fentanyl and xanax. No reason has ever been provided, to my knowledge, as to why this massive pain killer ( responsible for the deaths of Prince and Michael Jackson ) was being prescribed. Whatever the underlying diagnosis, it may have contributed to the obsession with the Golden State Killer and explain the fact that the pictures of the author show her working in bed. Ms. McNamara wrote a true crime blog. The book has been cobbled together from this, published articles, and notes. The result is disorganized and repetitive. The content could have been concisely recorded in half the pages. Extraneous chapters unrelated to the author seem to have been added to pad the pages rather than to add significant information. Since the killer has never been identified, if he is still living I can imagine him glorifying in his story and the failure of law enforcement. I hope the obsessive behavior of the author did not interfere with her personal life to the extent that seems to be portrayed. McNamara herself acknowledges the incredible toll the case took on her, writing at one point that “there’s a scream permanently lodged in my throat.” I have read a number of amazing true crime books. I highly recommend "Helter Skelter" by Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi, "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" by Erik Larson, "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann, and "The Onion Field" by Joseph Wambaugh. Since reviews of this book have been so positive, I was hoping for an excellent book, but was very disappointed. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Jan 10, 2021

A definite must read for people interested in true crime stories.

ArapahoeJohanna Jan 07, 2021

I've been wanting to read this one for a while! I was a little afraid that the hype around this book had more to do with the author's tragic death and the timing of the arrest of the Golden State Killer, and less to do with the quality of the book itself. This wasn't the case- I'll Be Gone in the Dark was well-researched, well-written, and consistently compelling. I read the entire thing in two days, which is a real rarity for me when it comes to non-fiction.

My interest in true crime is pretty narrow, so I rarely find books that capture my attention. I'm not a big fan of highly sensationalized true crime, nor am I interested in unembellished presentations of timelines and dry reports. I'm less interested in the details of the crimes than I am in the investigative side of things. To me, the psychology of the victims, investigators, and the community is usually more interesting than that of the offender. I'm also fascinated by the cultures, institutions, and social factors surrounding and influencing crime and criminal investigations.

Michelle McNamara's book is a near-perfect combination of all of these factors. It's part autobiography, part true crime, and all told with a heavy dose of introspection. She spends as much time looking at the big picture as she does focusing on the details, painting a comprehensive picture of the ripple effects of one man's crimes. Without the details of the perpetrator's life to add context or provide a narrative framework, she instead weaves a tale out of isolated events and multiple, disconnected investigations spanning decades. It's an impressive book, and one I'd definitely recommend!

Nov 13, 2020

Michelle's writing is so personal and engaging. You're drawn in so quickly, and she really makes you feel what she's talking about. So sad she wasn't able to see the capture of this predator that she'd worked so tirelessly on identifying, but this book is definitely a page-turner. I was impressed at how well it was completed by Michelle's colleagues after her passing. Even though those sections don't have Michelle's deeply personal touch, they're still informative and important parts of the story and I think they did very well, all things considered! Definitely would recommend.

LCPL_Krystyna Oct 26, 2020

Investigative journalism and true crime at its best! This was chilling and terrifying. It's a great book to pick up, even if you're not typically a fan of true crime. It's very well-researched and brilliantly written.

Sep 16, 2020

Fantastic read! The focus here is on McNamara's literal obsession with catching the Golden State Killer. It's sad knowing she passed just a couple years before he was caught, but this book is evidence of how her work contributed to his capture. She had a wonderful narrative voice and writing style that makes this book so easy to read (but sad knowing it ends with this single book). There are some great creepy moments that work well because of how she tells this story rather than feeling cheap and for the sake of a scare.

Sep 09, 2020

I'd already watched the TV documentary by the same name, but still very much enjoyed the book. Michelle's attention to detail, persistence and her obsessive investigation of every tiny clue are truly awe-inspiring. I have to admit, however, that by the time I was nearing the end of the book, I was sick of the work she was doing and I just couldn't imagine how she managed to keep at it. It is really a book worth reading.

Aug 25, 2020

Had she lived to complete her book, the author would have most certainly written the portion written post-mortem in a tone more consistent with the pages that preceded it. That said, this book did a good job at continuing the author's quest and was imminently readable. Since I know that the Golden State Killer has since been identified, tried, and convicted, it would have been interesting to have that part of the story reflected in the book and I missed not having that satisfaction of closure. Still, I read it in a single day then rose from my couch near the end of the book, to shut all my open windows and sliding doors. If you can read 300+ pages about a vicious serial murdered-rapist who breaks into houses with ease, I assume you would do the same.

Aug 13, 2020

This incredibly detailed factual account will interest fans of the true crime genre, mystery aficionados and anyone who watches forensic files. Do not read alone after dark!

Aug 01, 2020

I really enjoyed reading I'll be Gone in the Dark and I would highly recommend it. In particular, I would recommend this book to someone who loves crime/mystery novels. I enjoyed how suspenseful the book was. I was constantly on edge about what was going to happen next. However, I wouldn't recommend it to someone with a light heart due to the graphic descriptions about crime and violence. I think the last third of the book could have been better since the change of tone and writing style was abruptly presented and a far cry from the gripping words written by the late Michelle McNamara. This book was a totally different experience because generally I'm not drawn towards non-fiction. I have a new respect for these types of books after learning about Michelle McNamara's dedication to solving this 30-year-old cold case. The moral of I'll Be Gone in the Dark is that one person can make a difference in the world. In Michelle's case, it was justice. My main takeaway from this novel is that with hard work and perseverance anything can be achieved. 4/5 stars
@Roman of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

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Add a Quote
Apr 06, 2020

"I'm still hoping he hears that cell door slam behind him. And I hope she hears it somehow too."

Feb 01, 2019

This is how it ends for you.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once.

Open the door. Show us your face.

Walk into the light.”

Apr 26, 2018

Citrus Heights where DeAngelo, 72, has been arrested on Apr 25, 2018:

(EAST AREA RAPIST . . . FEAR GRIPS SERENE NEIGHBORHOODS), a man in a leather hood entered the window of a house in Citrus Heights and sneaked up on a sixteen-year-old girl watching television alone in the den. He pointed a knife at her and issued a chilling warning:
“Make one move and you’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark.”
What is the lasting damage when you believe the warm spot you were just sleeping in will be your grave? Time sands the edges of the injuries, but they never lose their hold. A nameless syndrome circulates permanently through the body, sometimes long dormant, other times radiating powerful waves of pain and fear. A hand gripped her neck. A blunt-tipped weapon dug into the side of her throat. At least a dozen investigators in Northern California could have correctly predicted the first words whispered in the dark.
“Don’t move.”
“Don’t scream.”

Apr 26, 2018

In another notepad, she wrote: “Don’t underestimate the fantasy: not raping in front of men—afraid of male; functional; privacy, writhing male not part of his fantasy. Mommy and crying. No remorse. Probably part of fantasy.” There were even notes on her own psychology:
-He was a compulsive prowler and searcher. We, who hunt him, suffer from the same affliction. He peered through windows. I tap “return.” Return. Return. Click Mouse click, mouse click.
-Rats search for their own food.
-The hunt is the adrenaline rush, not the catch. He’s the fake shark in Jaws, barely seen so doubly feared.
AFTER PROCESSING THE HOUSE, THE POLICE SAID TO DREW WITTHUHN, “It’s yours.” The yellow tape came down; the front door closed. The impassive precision of badges at work had helped divert attention from the stain. There was no avoiding it now. His brother and sister-in-law’s bedroom was just inside the front door, directly across from the kitchen. Standing at the sink,

Apr 26, 2018

California Proposition 69, approved in 2004, which mandated DNA collection from all felons, and from adults and juveniles charged with certain crimes (e.g., sex offenses, murder, arson). Keith Harrington’s (1980 victim in Dana Point) brother Bruce sponsored the campaign, pledging nearly $2 million to fund it.
DNA was the thread Michelle felt was the best way to get out of the maze of the Golden State Killer. California was one of only nine states in America that allowed testing of familial DNA within the state’s database. If the GSK’s brother was arrested for a felony tomorrow, we would see a hit. But that database contains only people who have been convicted of a crime. Michelle thought she might have found the killer when she had uploaded his DNA profile to a Y-STR database available online from Ancestry.com.
EAR/ONS == East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker

Apr 25, 2018


Scrolling through the rest of the 3,500 documents in Michelle’s hard drive, one comes upon a file titled “RecentDNAresults,” which features the EAR’s (East Area Rapist) Y-STR markers (short tandem repeats on the Y chromosome that establish male-line ancestry), including the elusive rare PGM marker. Having the Golden State Killer’s DNA was always the one ace up this investigation’s sleeve. But a killer’s DNA is only as good as the databases we can compare it to. There was no match in CODIS. And there was no match in the California penal system’s Y-STR database. If the killer’s father, brothers, or uncles had been convicted of a felony in the past sixteen years, an alert would have gone to Paul Holes or Erika Hutchcraft (the current lead investigator in Orange County). They would have looked into the man’s family, zeroed in on a member who was in the area of the crimes, and launched an investigation. But they had nothing.


Add a Summary
Apr 06, 2020

McNamara weaves true crime facts into a narrative that is easily digested while maintaining an air of respectfulness and empathy for the victims and their families. She writes about the crimes of course, and the theories of who the killer could be, but she also writes about her methods of investigation and the lengths to which she and other "DIY detectives" and retired officers team up to make sure that the Golden State Killer is brought to justice.

Jun 25, 2018

I have an occasional thing for True Crime, and this case has definitely caught my interest, but of course not at the same level as it captured the author's. She pursued this killer and rapist with the same level of dedication as the hardened detectives and criminalists that she profiles along with the killer. A good read, although sobering.

Apr 25, 2018

Cast of Characters

Sheila (Sacramento, 1976)
Jane Carson (Sacramento, 1976)
Fiona Williams (South Sacramento, 1977)
Kathy (San Ramon, 1978)
Esther McDonald (Danville, 1978)

MURDER VICTIMS (***DNA link tied to 4 cases --- announced Apr 25. 2018)
Claude Snelling (Visalia, 1978)
Katie and Brian Maggiore (Sacramento, 1978)
Debra Alexandria Manning and Robert Offerman (Goleta, 1979)
Charlene and Lyman Smith (Ventura, 1980) ***(DNA link)
Patrice and Keith Harrington (Dana Point, 1980)
Manuela Witthuhn (Irvine, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez (Goleta, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Janelle Cruz (Irvine, 1986) ***(DNA link)
Note: per wiki: The Golden State Killer is a serial killer, serial rapist and serial burglar who committed 50 rapes in Northern California during the mid-1970s and murdered twelve people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986 ...
Author's February 27, 2013 article for LA magazine:



Add Notices
Apr 06, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Generally disturbing acts committed by the Golden State Killer

Apr 06, 2020

Sexual Content: Describes assaults committed by the GSK

Apr 06, 2020

Violence: Describes murders committed by the GSK


Add Age Suitability
Apr 06, 2020

Jcrawley_0 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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