Publication Date: February 28, 2018
A series of fifty assaults over ten years in Northern California that grew into ten murders further south have left police confused for decades.
Thirty years later, Michelle McNamara begins digging into one of the most elusive cases - a serial rapist-turned-murderer who was never identified or caught. Using her journalistic skills, McNamara dives into the history of the Golden State Killer and attempts to solve the cold case once and for all.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: August 22, 2018
Note: *The author, Michelle McNamara, died two years before the release of this book. As such, any references to her will be in the past tense.*
Despite my great love of mysteries, I've never picked up a true-crime novel in my entire life. For some reasons, I guess I just thought that it wouldn't be as interesting as reading fiction, even though I've gone on several midnight spirals down the Wikipedia pages of some of history's most famous serial killers.
What finally got me to pick this up was wanting to try true-crime and knowing that the author was an investigative journalist. As a journalism major myself, I wanted to know what McNamara had seen in this case and take a look into the world of investigative journalism.
Listening to this was a very interesting and fun experience. I felt like someone was telling me the story of a killer, less in the sense of listening to a fictional story and more in the sense that someone was recounting part of their life. McNamara has a fantastic writing style that makes you feel as if you were listening to the most fascinating story in the world. You know those people who can tell stories of a boring day but make it sound like the best day ever? Michelle McNamara was one of those people. She was a writer in every sense of the word, and a storyteller of the highest caliber.
Throughout the time I spent listening to the audiobook, I was captivated by the mystery of the man who eluded authorities for decades and the way McNamara investigated the case. Her passion and determination to find the culprit of these awful crimes showed me how dedicated she was to her work and to finding justice for all the people affected by the Golden State Killer. The way McNamara gathered her facts, tracked down old leads, walked through the scenes herself, and devoted years of her life to digging through old case notes really spoke to me as a fellow journalist and lover of mysteries.
The case itself was very intriguing. Never would I have thought that someone who committed so many crimes over a decade would not only able to remain unidentified, but also hide any connections to prior crimes for years before the police realized that there was one person behind a series of bizarre crimes. You would think that with over 50 victims to his name, the Golden State Killer would be more widely known, but the truth is that even I had only heard the name once or twice before listening to this book and realizing how much is unknown about this killer.
No matter what was being discussed in the book, McNamara was willing to admit that she didn't have all the answers and that she sometimes fell to her personal biases or opinions. However, she never let any of that get in the way of the respect she had when writing about the victims of the GSK. Never did McNamara theorize as to what could have happened - she stuck to the facts and did her best to tell the story from as many sides as she could.
By the end of the book, I had more than half a mind to become an investigative journalist to honor McNamara's work and attempt to continue working on this case so that one day, there might be an answer. Will I actually do that? I don't know. But McNamara has inspired me immensely as a journalist and someone passionate about finding answers for those who have none. If anything, I will look into investigative journalism a lot more seriously as I try to figure out what path I want to take.
There are none to talk about, but I have to applaud the narrator for doing a great job reading the book, and Patton Oswald for a touching afterword about McNamara.
4.5 stars. I think this is a great first step into the world of true-crime books, and if you like the intrigue of unsolved cases, this is definitely worth picking up.