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
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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, true crime journalist Michelle McNamara 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. At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic, capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim -- he favored suburban couples -- he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.
Publisher: London : 2018. Faber & Faber,
ISBN: 9780571345144
Branch Call Number: ANF 364.153209794 M'NAM
Characteristics: xvi, 328 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly colour), maps, portraits, facsimiles ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: I will be gone in the dark


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 13, 2018

This is a story about one woman's diligent search to find the identity of the Golden State Killer. McNamara's writing style is perfect for a book of this nature. She provides the reader with details and insight into the killer's crimes. Yet, this book ultimately is her own fascinating story. McNamara died tragically shortly before the killer was identified and arrested. It is devastating to think that this woman, who did so much to keep this man's crimes fresh in the minds of the public, died shortly before finally seeing him captured. A must read for readers of true crime and anyone with an interest in crime research! McNamara worked closely with the detectives who worked the case, and this book provides a unique insight into how they work.

Dec 13, 2018

If you just heard about this book recently and think it’s about how the so-called Golden State Killer (GSK) was finally identified, think again. It’s the story of his crimes, and of one now-deceased woman (the author, who was an amateur/civilian), who became obsessed with him. She writes well and describes his crimes in detail as well as depicting the detectives and many others whose lives intersected with him. However, the book was published in February 2018, two months before the GSK was identified and arrested. He is now awaiting trial. It is very frustrating to get to the end and find that you cannot find out which of the myriad theories was correct. Which profilers got it right? Which parts of the profiles were right? Was the name of the GSK ever in the database of suspects? How was he caught? These questions are not answered in this book.

Dec 05, 2018

This book was really weird for me. I was so looking forward to reading it and it really did pull me in for the first few chapters, but I began feeling really uneasy. I'd put the book down, and pick it up again only to stall. It was so disconnected, jumping back and forth from period to period, character to character...I can see this format really working for certain readers. It keeps you on your toes, but I think you've got to be in the mood to be kept on your toes when the subject matter is so dark. The format lends too much levity to the story...I sort of wanted the author to hunker down and dig into a period or character, THEN move on. But I have a feeling this book got so much hype and push simply because the author died young and in her sleep (and was married to Patton Oswalt, apparently?). RIP to her. I'm a true crime lover, but like a steadier focus.

Nov 23, 2018

As a memoir for Michelle McNamara, who I was a big fan of, I liked this book and enjoyed her storytelling. The drive and obsession this woman had was amazing and it's heartbreaking to know that she never got to see it published. However, as a true crime novel I found that the timing jumped around a lot and make the actual story of the EAR/ONS/GSK a bit confusing.

Nov 12, 2018

Could not put this down. I enjoyed Michelle's writing and her way of intertwining the victims stories with factual evidence from the cases. Very griping but recommend not reading too late at night. I had to check all my windows and doors while reading this!

LPL_LeahN Oct 27, 2018

Michelle McNamara possessed a rare gift. She could almost overwhelm you with facts of the deeply disturbing East Area Rapist case, but knew just when to reel you back in with a poetic turn of phrase. In this book, she doesn't beat around the bush about the horror of his crimes, but approaches each with compassion and respect for the victims.

Going into this knowing that she tragically passed away before its completion, and before the EAR was caught earlier this year, and that she left behind a young daughter and devoted husband...that made me sad. Now, after reading her only work of this kind, I lament that her promising career was cut short. She was instrumental in spurring this investigation forward, and told the story with such grace. Her passion, dedication, and talent will be missed.

Oct 24, 2018

I am unsure why this type of book fascinates and draws me in. It feels prurient in some ways. This is a deep exploration by a skilled writer of a tragic series of crimes by a man who derived pleasure by abusing and murdering innocent people.

IndyPL_ShannonB Oct 23, 2018

I have read a lot of true crime in my day, but this book has affected me as few books have. The combination of the story of the Golden State Killer and his evolution from serial rapist to serial killer plus Michelle McNamara's discussion of how the quest for him affected her own life plus the fact that McNamara died before the book was finished makes this a very compelling story. I am still not quite finished with the book, as I have to put it down, because it gets too frightening.

Oct 22, 2018

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 obsession 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

Oct 13, 2018

This is not just about unsolved cold cases or the man who eluded police and terrified several communities. This is not about getting into the mind of a killer and trying to understand his motivations. This is about a woman piercing together the past with what she can find in the present. This is about connecting with people, investigators, victims, families, and the internet. The Golden State Killer remains a character at a distance, and rather than diving into the mind of a killer, McNamara opens up her mind for the reader to understand her obsession, her analysis, her Hope's and her frustrations. McNamara does not glorify or romanticize the killer to help the reader connect, but uses herself as that connection so that the killer remains exactly what he is, a killer. Although her unexpected death kept her from finishing the work, I think that makes the readers connection to McNamara stronger. At times we are offered fragments from past works, rather than a polished chapter. Anecdotes from those in her life and what they saw in her. This is about the author, and just as she didn't have all the pieces neither do we.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

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

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:


Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at LCCL

To Top