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I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (976 ratings)

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Summary

Short-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize 2018 

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

'You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark.'

For more than 10 years, a mysterious and violent predator committed 50 sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated 10 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 popular website True Crime Diary, 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. 

I'll Be Gone in the Dark - the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death - offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman's obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. 

Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle's lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic - and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our desktop site.

©2018 Michelle McNamara (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about I'll Be Gone in the Dark

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

An hodgepodge of bits and pieces

The thing to know is that the author died before writing her book. So this "book" is actually a confused and confusing jumble of source documents: some writing by the author that presumably was intended to be part of her book one day, transcripts of interviews, articles, excerpts of "early drafts of articles," bits of memoir about her own life that have nothing to do with the killer/murders, a chapter from her editors and another by her husband lauding her, essays pondering abstract issues, etc. There's no organizing principle - it's not collated, for example, chronologically. So this chapter's interview might overlap the one last chapter and then the next magazine article goes all the way back to the beginning. This make for lots of repetition and it's kind of bewildering to listen to. Parts are written in first person, and then it jumps to third person. One section will be written as straight true crime and then there are fictionalized sections of how conversations might have gone. THere's no one person's journey to get invested in as a reader. What is most certainly isn't is "one woman's obsessive search for the golden state killer" - that would have been a book I'd have liked to have read, because McNamara can write well.

18 people found this helpful

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Not impressed

In my opinion a not very well written book. It feels more like a stream of conciousness in many places rather than a book written by, in most part, a criminal journalist. Of course there are difficulties because this book was finished by other people, and I don't know how much of that has influenced the style of the writing. But I'm not entirely sure what his book is supposed to bring to the story of the Golden State Killer. The acronyms used are not helpful, and are often distracting, they feel forced rather than regularly used. I don't understand the point of the replacement names for people that could surely be identified from public records. Although not as graphic as it could be it does feel sensationalist in many ways. Overall really not very impressed and wont be listening to it again.

7 people found this helpful

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Pretty Poor

A very interesting case, ruined entirely here by the self importance of the author, who seems to believe that her opinions and backstory are more interesting than the case material. Poorly written, badly constructed and trying much too hard, I found myself skipping through large chunks and had to give up before the end. Far better books on the subject out there. Avoid.

7 people found this helpful

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Good summary of GSK

I enjoyed this audiobook. I have followed the GSK for sometime now and this was a good summary. Probably a better listen for those that already have a little prior knowledge of these events.

5 people found this helpful

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Dark, Compelling True Crime, But Material Missing!

This is a quite astonishing story, in fact maybe it's two stories. Michelle McNamara who sadly passed before the book could be finished and before the killer could be brought to justice lived an incredible obsession every day of her life. She did manage to write large parts of this story which was completed by her lead researcher and a close colleague. It covers her obsession which gets more understandable with every passing chapter. The Golden State Killer is an incredible story of how one single man was able to commit the most heinous of crimes over many years time after time while still evading capture. It almost beggars belief how he got away with it and baffled law enforcement agencies over decades. The book tells that story and with Michelle's amazing depth of research it does it in detail. The lives that were destroyed: victims, family members, even children. It talks about how communities lived in fear of this man and how even the investigators that tried so hard but in vain to identify and capture him were left part-broken by their failures and constant disappointments. It talks about the online community of amateur sleuths of which Michelle was a part that kept the case alive dedicating their time to trying to solve the mystery and identify this seemingly phantom killer. Lastly it of course talks about the effect on Michelle's life and her relationships making the afterword by her husband incredibly poignant. Tragically of course Michelle never got to see the moment she yearned for, the man finally caught and unmasked as she passed away in 2016 but this is a fine record as her legacy. It has to be said though that it's not the easiest of listens. At times it is a sad litany of evil crime after evil crime and the book goes into enough detail to make it problematic for anyone on the squeamish side. Also, unfortunately Audible have not included the pdf attachment that is supposed to come with the book which sounds like it would have been particularly useful towards the end as mapping techniques were discussed so while this is a five star book I've given four as a result.

34 people found this helpful

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Didn’t like it

A lot of unnecessary and boring details about the victim’s life - wouldn’t recommend this book

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

Listening to the audiobook - fantastic listen. Just be warned that this audiobook (at least as of August 2019) does not include the latest update to the book.

4 people found this helpful

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Enthralled till the end.

Enjoyed every minute. The narrators soft seductive voice treads gently on harsh words carrying this book along beautifully. Fantastic writing.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

I was expecting a good read but this surpassed my expectations the wor!d of true crime has lost a true master of the genre with Michelle McNamara her family can be proud of this work

9 people found this helpful

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Tough listen

extremely boring at times with the author going off on personal tangents. would've rather listened to a more linear story, instead I was forced back and forth in time hearing more of the personal research than the crimes themselves. will be returning unfortunately 😔

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nicola Kritzinger
  • 11-01-19

Incredible Tenacity

Michelle McNamara is an inspiration to anyone who wishes to write. Her investigation was incredible. It’s thanks to people like Michelle that people can hopefully find closure. It’s so sad to think she didn’t live to see her work published or its major impact. Well worth a read or a listen. Performance is A+.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Aamir Butt
  • 25-02-19

Needs an update

This book needs an update now that a lot has changed regarding pursuit of Golden state killer. Brilliant investigative book nonetheless.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dorn
  • 20-08-20

Well worth a credit

Michelle McNamara has a wonderful gift for evoking the narrative scene. This blends intensive data research with storytelling in a seamless and engaging manner. The narrator and other voices complete the experience.

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  • CA
  • 16-04-20

Too Much rehashing the same story!

How many times can this story be told and investigated! Enough already! Same old story!

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  • Earbud
  • 12-09-19

well written and interesting

I can understand why this book was rated so highly by readers and critics. McNamara sure could write: this is true crime on another level. I would say that it can be compared with Capote's In cold blood. It is about so much more than just trying to 'catch' the perpetrator of serial rapes and killings in California over a long period of time. It explores and reveals much about a place and time in America, and the nature of killers and those who are obsessed with them. I savoured her use of language and her ability to conjure up a constant tense, vaguely sinister atmosphere, which kept me intrigued, in spite of the fact that it had been made clear from the outset that the mystery was going to remain unsolved. I found Gabra Zackman's narration absolutely spot on. She really gets the tone of the book and effectively conveys the menace of the killer as he escalates, and the growing obsession/hint of desperation on the part of the author, as she tries to pull together a constantly unravelling tapestry of clues. Recommended for those who like nuanced non fiction that makes one think.