I’ve followed true crime since reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote as a teen. Most of my focus tends to be on serial killers as they are a crafty group who are often elusive to law enforcement and I really want my happy ending (they’re found, locked up, tried and justice served). Imagine my surprise when, during this book’s promotion, I learned, for the first time about the Golden State Killer, or the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (EARs/ONS). The fact that this killer/rapist escaped nationwide notoriety tells you something about him and his crimes.
The author does something different here than what I customarily find in other similar true crime stories. She provides a lot of context for the victims and survivors, humanizing them in a way that makes you experience their trauma emotionally without relying on graphic details to evoke feeling unless it was germane to the evidence and investigation. I felt like I knew them more intimately before their assaults. Truman Capote was the only other author I’ve read who accomplished the same.
I found the book fascinating, particularly the insights into the hearts, minds and dogged determination of the primary investigators. These crimes lived with them and McNamara succeeded in humanizing and honoring them as well. It is a tribute to her that they all viewed her as part of the investigative team.
It’s tragic that the author died before completing the book and before seeing the killer captured shortly after the book’s release. I think those who helped bring the book to completion did an admirable job. However, you can tell the author wasn’t able to tell her story as sometimes the telling of the events lacked a cohesive element. But, it didn’t lessen my appreciation for her work on this case and I can’t help but feel she may have fallen victim too because of her obsession about the case. I listened to the story and really liked how the narrator refrained from using a dramatic approach. It read like a reporter or law enforcement professional giving me the facts: straight and no nonsense.
Highly recommend this to those who are true crime followers and appreciate the value of good investigative work in tracking down a wily killer.