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I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, True Crime
4.5 out of 5 stars (23,541 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Soon to be an HBO Documentary Series

Introduction by Gillian Flynn

Afterword by Patton Oswalt 

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. 

"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 TrueCrimeDiary.com, 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 18 and 30, 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. 

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 Michelle's 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 PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Tell Me Productions (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Gabra Zackman delivers this terrifying account... Her calm, objective voice makes the minute details of GSK's 50 sexual assaults and 10 murders in California chilling.... McNamara's research makes for intriguing listening, thanks to Zackman's restrained, intelligent presentation of the grim details." (AudioFile)

A dogged digital sleuth, McNamara was consumed by the Golden State Killer—a name she coined herself.
“I need to see his face. He loses his power when we know his face.”
The killer, also known as the “EAR,” was thought to have a military and/or police background.
McNamara suspected DNA was the key to the case—particularly ancestral DNA stored in genealogy databases.
McNamara’s husband predicted her work would hook readers—and hoped it would lead to an arrest.
“This is how it ends for you.” McNamara’s afterword was addressed directly to the Golden State Killer.

Listening to:

  • Chapter 2
  • A dogged digital sleuth, McNamara was consumed by the Golden State Killer—a name she coined herself.
  • Chapter 6
  • “I need to see his face. He loses his power when we know his face.”
  • Chapter 7
  • The killer, also known as the “EAR,” was thought to have a military and/or police background.
  • Chapter 27
  • McNamara suspected DNA was the key to the case—particularly ancestral DNA stored in genealogy databases.
  • Chapter 28
  • McNamara’s husband predicted her work would hook readers—and hoped it would lead to an arrest.
  • Chapter 29
  • “This is how it ends for you.” McNamara’s afterword was addressed directly to the Golden State Killer.

Editorial Review

A true crime thriller that became front-page news

The best true crime books pass on an obsession: they haunt you the way the case haunted the writer. Before Michelle McNamara came along, few besides the most dogged web sleuths and law enforcement knew about the Golden State Killer, a serial predator who stalked, raped, and murdered victims in their own homes in California in the 1970s and ’80s—and then vanished, letting the trail grow cold. Much has been made about whether McNamara’s gorgeously written, obsessively researched book helped catch the suspect who was arrested just two months after its publication. But McNamara herself predicted DNA technology would eventually beat him, though she didn’t live to see it happen. Don’t listen to this book to figure out whether McNamara “solved” the case. Listen to be in the company of her sharp, compassionate, and haunted mind, for which Gabra Zackman’s skillful, subtle narration is the ideal conduit. Listen because this audiobook is, quite simply, on the very short list of masterpieces in the literature of true crime.Kat J., Audible Editor

What members say

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Wonderful Listen to Scare Yourself in the Dark

Loved it! It was like listening to a police documentary with a soap opera story in the undertones. It is definitely a "foreground" book--I made the mistake of trying to do some work and cooking while listening... wound up with a pot of burnt noodles, a flashing cursor burnt into my retinas and three chapters in need of a complete rewind!
This is definitely a "coffee and cold rainy window" type listen.

151 of 162 people found this review helpful

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A haunting masterpiece

As a fan of the true crime genre and Michelle's fantastic blog, I was so excited for this book -- and devastated to learn of Michelle's sudden death in 2016, when she was still writing it. As Gillian Flynn notes in the forward, a lot of us grapple with our fascination with true crime, and one way to approach it is by seeking justice, truth and compassion rather than voyeurism, misinformation and shallow answers. Michelle was always a crusader of the highest order, and her obsessive sleuthing and thoughtful reckoning of her own motivations (“We, who hunt him, suffer from the same affliction. He peered through windows. I tap ‘return.’ ”) shine through here with fierce humanity. If you don't about the Golden State Killer, also known as EAR/ONS, "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" will pull you into the story of the faceless monster behind one of America's most notorious and horrific unsolved cases, but it is Michelle's voice that stays with you in the end. This book is a rare gem of dogged research and masterful writing that elevates it to the top tier of true crime. A special benefit of the audio version is hearing Gillian Flynn’s forward and Patton Oswalt’s moving afterword in their own voices. (It is also thanks to Oswalt, researcher Paul Haynes, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen that the book was completed.) I hope its legacy leads to what Michelle wanted most of all: an answer, and justice for the victims.

197 of 220 people found this review helpful

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Too special to not try

Where does I'll Be Gone in the Dark rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

"I'll be gone in the Dark" definitely ranks highly among all the audiobooks I've listened to, but it is one of the best true crime books I've read.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The most interesting piece to me was learning about DNA testing and how much the process has changed since these crimes occurred.

Any additional comments?

I purchased this book after listening to an interview with Patton Oswalt talking about getting this book published after Michelle MacNamara died. While I enjoy true crime, this book was also special because of the lives Michelle touched and devotion to her project. Great true crime read, but oh so frustrating because there is no end yet.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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If only...

If only Michelle had lived to see this book published. If only she had known how successful this book would go on to be. It’s beautifully written and beautifully researched. She gives details and makes her journey personal to the reader. She kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, but with every word I read my heart broke, not just for the victims and their families, but because Michelle had no idea the impact this book would have.

76 of 85 people found this review helpful

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A story that leaves a scream stuck in your throat.

Gripping, chilling and absolutely engrossing, Michelle McNamara’s obsession to find the killer is a triumph. I couldn’t stop listening and finished this in a day. McNamara keeps you thinking, guessing and piecing together clues as well as interweaving her own life story into this finely shaped puzzle that will set your mind on fire. Thank you Patton Oswalt for completing this to perfection and amazing narration by Gabra Zackman.

58 of 65 people found this review helpful

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I Wanted to Love This Book

Knowing the back story on this book, I really wanted to love it. I knew that the author had died suddenly, that the book was unfinished, but that the author's husband and associates wanted her work published. What she wrote is beautiful. The problem is, I thought this book was closer to publication than it was. Throughout, in chapters written by Michelle, there are editor notes about information that she had not included, some where her opinion had changed. Then there are whole chapters gleaned from a magazine article she had written or things that she excluded from the magazine article. The one chapter I did like was where she met an investigator and they toured one of the areas. This chapter was just the transcribed dialogue between them in the car which she had taped.

Michelle's chief investigator wrote the last chapter and told about all the information she had recently acquired that she was sifting through. He tried to wrap it up, but couldn't. I wondered why they bothered to put this book together and publish it. I understand that all who loved her wanted her words out there. But then I thought perhaps the real purpose was to get the word out and solve the case. That would be Michelle's true legacy.

Final thought: this book made me yearn for what it could have been had Michelle been the one to finish it.

56 of 66 people found this review helpful

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loved it!

I really enjoyed this audiobook! the narrator is amazing, and the story itself is very interesting. it’s written in a clever way that gives you the facts, but in a way you’ll remember them and actually enjoy hearing about them, rather than lists of things for you to remember

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Gripping....frustrating....she was SOCLOSE!

A great book, with detailed chronology of intertwined storylines and some seriously twisted stuff. Honestly so difficult to listen to, knowing that Michelle was so close and seemed THISCLOSE to some real advances in the hunt for this bastard. I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to get to the point where she was, but damn I hope someone does.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Masterpiece

Michelle McNamara has incited a flame that will lead to the finding of the Earon, of that much I am sure. Magnificently written, and emotionally gripping.

28 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Amazing. Riveting. Masterpiece.

What I said before. No one else could have written this book, and only those who loved her could have finished it with the reverence Michelle and her journey deserved.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Areeje
  • 09-05-19

Its ok a little confusing at times

Struggled to finish wasca little slow and boring also confusing didnt have a great flow

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-14-19

This is a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

From the first chapter you feel every ounce of the writer's passion for her work. Within minutes you are sucked in and her compulsion becomes yours.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dante
  • 08-31-18

a brilliant book.

Michelle's talent will be missed. I'm only glad that her work with Paul Holes resulted in this creeps capture. Pattons postword was so emotional.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • donna
  • 08-03-18

Couldn't get enough!

Loved it, Michelle McNamara was some woman for one woman. Paton should be very proud (of course he is!) Couldn't stop listening, will be re-listening. The narrator was great; easy to listen too.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-16-18

Kept me wanting more

Loved it, kept me excited and wanting more. Sad ending since you feel like your geting to know the author.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-17-18

great ready for any true crime fan.

great read for any true crime fan. 😁 😁 😁 😁 😁 😁 😁 😁

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  • David W.
  • 03-18-18

a riveting hopeful read.

This is a read which despite the brutal subject matter manages to leave the reader filled with hope that the subject of the book will spend his final days in a cage.

MacNamera neither glorifies the Killer nor his actions and demistifys his actions and how it was more chance and circumstance that allowed him to evade capture.

By the end of the book the reader seems almost certain that he will be found in the very near future.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-19

Insufferable narrator

I wanted to finish this audiobook, but even as I got closer to completing, I dreaded listening. The narrator’s style (to me) is completely off-putting. The voices she employs for different individuals, men in particular, are barely listenable. It’s a shame, because I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since it was released. It’s a good book. It’s well written and interesting, but disjointed and messy.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful