I plug my phone into my car stereo each morning on a long drive to the other side of town. I will spend each of those days yelling at primary school aged children to behave whilst simultaneously attempting to teach them how to play Aussie Rules football. It’s 6am and I run through that morning routine once again. The sound of choice for me to fill my car with each morning is the voices of Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, everyone’s favourite true crime-obsessed comedy duo, hosts of My Favorite Murder. The episode that rings through my silver 2009 Rav4 are different from the normal format, this time the girls are sat in a bookshop talking about a book I’ve never read, written about a case I’ve never heard of, but one that would soon capture my attention and my literacy affections.
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark immediately grabbed me right in the chest (in a non-Harvey Weinstein way) and held on for dear life. Something about an amazing writer with an obsession to find a killer, who passes away before she can even release her debut book really tugs on those heart strings you may have hidden deep in your chest long ago.
Just for backstory, Michelle McNamara was a crime writer and blogger from California who became obsessed with finding the notorious East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (or EARONS), whom she would later dub the Golden State Killer. This man had a wrap sheet longer than a story your Great Grandpa made up about the war he didn’t fight in. 12+ murdered, 50+ raped, 120+ burgled and who the fuck knows what else he got up to.
McNamara’s book takes dry, scrawled notes from years of investigations by crime fighters who wanted nothing more than to get this bastard behind bars and to get home to their loved ones and turns them into a deeply personal narrative that could belong alongside James Patterson on the shelves of bookstores worldwide. But every well written, heartfelt word is real and factual. The Cast of Characters are real-life people who live and breathe (if they were lucky enough to survive). And our heroes are people who walk among us.
With the Golden State Killer now caught and going to trial, I’ll Be Gone in The Dark is an entirely different story to read, but it is captivating nonetheless. All I can hope is that all fans of true crime find this book and that Michelle is watching as her book finally gets the conclusion she always wanted.