I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara is a posthumously published work from the editor of truecrimediary.com in which she recounts her years-long search to uncover the identity of the Golden State Killer. For more than a decade, the GSK terrorized neighborhoods and towns across Northern California, attacking single woman and couples in their homes. Despite countless clues found at each crime scene, the police were never able to find a viable suspect for the crimes. After the discovery of DNA profiling, evidence from seemingly unrelated cases was found to be linked through DNA evidence, but the killer still couldn’t be caught. The GSK went dormant in 1986, but no one could conclusively say if he had died, been imprisoned, or was still out there alluding capture.
It has been said that McNamara’s blog and articles about the GSK prevented the GSK cases from going completely cold, keeping the public and the police constantly vigilant for any clue that might lead to the perpetrator of these horrendous crimes. McNamara tracked down clues through thousands of pages of police records and court filings, interviews with police officers who first investigated and their colleagues now working the cases, and even went so far as to track down a pair of distinctive cufflinks that might have been stolen by the GSK. This preoccupation took a toll on McNamara’s life, however, intensifying her insomnia and anxiety and possibly contributing to her untimely death. According to her husband, an undiagnosed heart condition was exacerbated by prescription pain and anti-anxiety medication; McNamara died in 2016, just two years before the killer was finally brought to justice. In April 2018, just months after her book was published, police finally arrested a suspect found through tracking DNA evidence. While the story of the search for this heartless killer is a fascinating one, what makes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark really stand out from other true crime books is McNamara’s ability to humanize both the victims and the professional and armchair investigators who dedicated their lives to seeking justice.