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True Crime Recs

I have been on a true crime kick lately. I recently finished the audio for I'll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and followed that up with Unmasked by Paul Holes. Both books heavily cover the story of the Golden State Killer, but from a different angle. Michelle delves into all the details of the case with a literary flair, while Paul's narrative is part memoir, part true crime and speaks to his involvement in the GSK case, as well as other well known crimes, and his home life and mental health issues.

I'll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

"A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case."

Wow wow wow. True crime fans and arm chair sleuths unite. This is a book for you. McNamara delves into the nitty gritty of the crimes committed by the Original Night Stalker/East Area Rapist, more commonly known now as the Golden State Killer. One of the most notorious serial rapist and killers in US history, yet the case went unsolved for years before DNA evidence napped the perpetrator, Joseph James DeAngelo in 2018. Between 1974 and 1986, DeAngelo murdered 13 people in their homes, raped 50 victims, and burglarized over 120 homes. He truly terrorized the west coast, stalking his victims at night, breaking into their houses, holding them hostage and using psychological tactics to torture them, raping women and eventually graduating to murder. This case is chilling and McNamara leave no stone unturned.

McNamara became obsessed with this case and delved into internet websites, old police reports, and true crime online threads to piece together the case. She ended up befriending investigators, like Paul Holes, and became an integral part in keeping the cold case alive. While McNamara might not have caught DeAngelo, she surly played a role in keeping the case at the forefront for investigators. Sadly, McNamara passed away before the completion of the case, but you know she was smiling down on the law enforcement officers who banged on DeAngelo's door that fateful day in 2018 when he realized his time had come.

Absolutely fascinating and stellar writing. I'll be Gone in the Dark is a wild ride and a true crime masterpiece. The audio was chilling and I highly recommend it.

Unmasked by Paul Holes

“From the detective who found the Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards (and tolls) of a life solving crime.”

Paul Holes is a former Criminalist with the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office. Holes had an interest in working cold cases and helped on some of the most notorious crimes, including Laci and Conner Peterson, Jaycee Dugard, and the infamous Golden State Killer. Holes delves into his involvement on these cases as a Criminalist, an expert in the use of scientific methods to investigate crimes. Holes job was to accompany investigators to crime scenes in order to collect evidence to analyze. His job is beyond fascinating and I enjoyed learning about the process behind DNA analysis and how something as tiny as a fragment of DNA could be the smoking gun that solves the case. In addition to some of the more well known cases Holes worked, he talks about his family life and how it suffered due to his dedication to his job. Holes also opens up about his struggles with anxiety and PTSD from his years on the job. I can only begin to imagine all of the horrible scenes that Holes witnessed.

Unmasked is a truly interesting and unique memoir. Celadon Books graciously provided copies to my book club and we had an amazing discussion. (Thank you Celadon! #partner) The general consensus was that everyone enjoyed the book. Some liked the true crime aspect more, while others enjoyed Holes opening up about his failed marriage and home life struggles. My consensus? This one is a quick read and if you are a true crime fan, you will enjoy it. I read this one after I finished the audiobook for I'll be Gone in the Dark and it complemented the book perfectly. I did have to remind myself that I was reading a book by a former law enforcement officer, not an author by trade. Because of that, there was some repetition and the book could have been written better.

Check out Unmasked by Paul Holes, out April 2022, and pre-order your copy today.

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