I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

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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, 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.

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 her 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.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Publication Date: February 27, 2018 by Faber & Faber

Goodreads


My Thoughts:

Pictures of this book kept popping up around social media sites and I immediately marked it for my future TBR pile since true crime novels are right up my alley. Once I heard news that the bastard had finally been caught after decades of eluding the police, I immediately snagged a copy so that I could catch up on the case. My only regret is that I didn’t pick this up sooner!

Michelle McNamara was an extremely gifted writer. Her knowledge about the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist was encyclopedic and her genuine passion for wanting him to be caught is palpable in the way she shares the case’s extensive history and missing pieces. What could have easily felt a bit clinical is actually a really personal read and McNamara’s empathy for the survivors and anger for the victims is easy to sense in every chapter.

While I have always loved true crime novels and documentaries, the stories often focus more on the person responsible – it’s very hard to feel close to the victims of a killer because they are not there to share their story directly and much is relied upon through the third person narrative. What makes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark stand out is how close Michelle McNamara makes the reader feel to the victims of the EAR. This aspect of her writing style is also what makes the book so absolutely terrifying because you feel like you know the victims and are there when the EAR shatters their sense of safety in their own home. I live in a third floor walk-up and still had difficulty getting to sleep after reading a few chapters of this book – McNamara makes the EAR’s vicious attacks on people you’ve never met feel so up-close and personal.

It is clear that McNamara was haunted by this case both through the parts of her life she shares directly and in the details of research that is revealed after her death. After reading her book, I think it’s safe to say that she played a pivotal role in the hunt for the Golden State Killer and reigniting the public interest in getting justice for his victims. While it is sad to know that she was not alive to see it happen, her husband’s continued involvement in the publication of her book and the current updates in the case are a fantastic homage to her life and her work.

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Sweetbitter

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Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job as a “backwaiter” at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. What follows is the story of her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. As her appetites awaken—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess finds herself helplessly drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle. In Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler deftly conjures with heart-stopping accuracy the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the restaurant industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young in New York.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Publication Date: May 24, 2016 by Knopf

Goodreads


My Thoughts:

“I still like Dave Matthews Band,” he said. “That’s kind of embarrassing.”
“No,” I said. “Nothing you do is ever embarrassing. You’re not a girl.”

I LOVED this book and it’s yet another one that I put off starting because of such strong and scathing reviews (just like Emma Cline’s The Girls– a novel I ended up obsessing over).

Is it pretentious? Yes, but in that way that only seems appropriate for a coming-of-age story about a 22-year-old woman who has just moved to New York City on a whim. Tess’ story made me reminisce a bit of how fun it can be to be that young and naive, but at the same time made me appreciative of everything I’ve learned since then. While I couldn’t necessarily relate to Tess now, I could see aspects of my younger self in her and her struggles (mistaking sex for romance, accepting that you have a lot to learn about food, wine, life, etc.) and that made me root for her.

I also really liked Simone’s character. Yes, there’s a seriously frigid aspect to her personality, but that made me love her more. On the surface, Simone embodied everything that a younger woman could only hope to grow into – intelligent, confident, worldly and with a seriously badass apartment in the city. It was easy to see why Tess could so quickly fall under her spell and both envy/adore her (and perhaps ignore her seriously creepy relationship with Jake).

For the same reasons I will never tired of Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations, Sweetbitter spoke to my endless hunger for good food, better wine, and new experiences. It encouraged me to be more courageous and curious at my local wine shop and to also reminisce about mussels in Nice, camembert in Cannes, and the freshest sushi I’ve ever had in Osaka. It seems just a bit too easy to write off this novel as pretentious when so many of us are always craving new experiences – whether that’s through travel, food, drink, or even just through the books we read.