The Golden State Killer is once again in the headlines after finally being caught. This book about the search for him is sure to catch—and keep—readers’ attention.
McNamara, a TV screenwriter and true-crime blog and magazine writer, was particularly captivated by the man she dubbed the Golden State Killer. A prolific criminal who left dozens of cold cases (including at least 12 murders and 50 rapes) in his wake, the GSK had been glimpsed but never seen, and the author was sure he would be caught despite evading police for over 30 years. She hunted him mostly through online research, and she became friends with other cold-case enthusiasts, detectives, and others who still pursued justice, giving her unparalleled access to information about the GSK and his crimes. In this explosive book, McNamara combines her prodigious research with her impressive storytelling skills and ability to seamlessly weave the narratives of all those lives into one terrifying story. Sadly, the author died in 2016 before finishing the book (her husband, Patton Oswalt, provides the afterword), and the manuscript was completed by investigative journalist Billy Jensen and her lead researcher, Paul Haynes. The last section of the book is written in exactly the style one would expect from an investigative journalist: no nonsense and loaded with facts and relevant observations. For armchair true-crime enthusiasts, this cold case, packed with countless cases and near misses, would have been captivating based on nothing but the dry facts. However, in McNamara’s skilled hands, this enthralling book becomes so much more: a detective story with an unlikely narrator, a study in changing forensic techniques, a multidecade saga that never loses urgency, and a potent analysis of human behavior in victims, witnesses, investigators, and onlookers.
An exemplary true-crime book, and with an HBO adaptation in the works, this book will be enjoyed by any reader with an interest in human nature, crime, puzzles, and investigative dramas.